Getting in Character…June 22nd, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Chalk art 2

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.”

Let the scene speak for itself.

The problem in the world of theater is that we often spend too much time on costuming, scenery and promotion.

If the quality is not present in the writing and the characterization, it will soon become evident that we’re just trying to tie a ribbon on a mutt.

Such is life.

Yet if you are determined to get in character you have to decide what you’re going to pursue.

Is it excellence or is it merely acceptance you’re seeking?

Excellence is finding what you want to communicate and then practicing it until you’re completely satisfied with your take.

Acceptance, on the other hand, is hoping to be received well without actually doing well.

In a generation which screams for “unconditional love,” we end up with a phony representation of the sentiment without the transforming power of the true emotion.

Excellence is a quiet determination. Acceptance tends to sport some arrogance: 

  1. Accept me.
  2. I’m fine.
  3. What’s your problem?
  4. People are stupid and don’t get it.

Excellence stands and faces the world without fear proclaiming, “I am satisfied and overjoyed with my profile. Come and see.”

Acceptance, on the other hand, is only fulfilled when praised.

There’s a gentle meekness in the pursuit of excellence which allows the scene to play out while we faithfully insert our portion, inheriting the stage.

And souls who pursue excellence end up getting what they want because the work itself is the blessing instead of a flaccid universal acceptance.

 

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G-Poppers… January 9, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Popper

Granddaughter, trying to be funny, asked, “G-Pop, what’s it like being old?”

G-Pop: Old? I’ve just had enough birthdays that I know what kind of cake and frosting I prefer.

I’m old enough that people don’t ever say, “You aren’t old enough.”

I look twice as cool when I know what’s going on and I’ve kept up with the times and the news.

Would you believe, I’ve made a family?

I may walk slower, but it just enables me to enjoy more scenery.

I have learned that arguing only delays pleasure.

I think people start looking better because I’ve seen worse.

Here’s a kicker–my clothes are suddenly back in style.

I want to fuss less, laugh more, work little, enjoy the moment and deeply appreciate finding my keys.

And by the way–I’m finally the older version of the child who always wanted to be older.

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Three Ways to Parent Your Money… September 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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disgruntled teenagerMoney is much like the disgruntled, snotty teenager who decides to get even with you by running away from home because you told him or her that the pair of shoes the young’un desires will have to be put off until the next paycheck.money

Also, money will embarrass by going out during this little misadventure and humiliate you, overindulging and even getting in trouble with the law.

What I’m saying in a nutshell is that money needs parenting. Without parenting, it begins to run your household with its bad attitudes, making you cringe in the corner of your bedroom, fearing a knock on the door.

So let me offer three ways to parent your money, making sure that you are still in charge:

1. Always be prepared to give an honest report.

Not only does money fail to grow on trees, but it never sprouts through lies. Pretending you’re something you aren’t is the quickest way to poverty. Failing to recognize the signs of difficulty is not optimism, it’s just stupidity with a smile on its face.

The best way to get in control of your finance and welcome money into your life is to assess your situation without becoming giddy with potential or suicidal with the facts.

2. An organized plan.

Give yourself the greatest gift you can–stop insisting that you’re not an organized person. It’s like taking a dagger and sticking it in your heart and reaching for the band-aids. Life without organization, a plan and clarity to your actions is like walking on the edge of a cliff blindfolded. It is much easier to be organized than it is to put out the brush fires ignited by too many spontaneous choices.

3. A slower pace.

It is a lie that the race goes to the swiftest. It doesn’t. The most important attribute in success is endurance, followed closely by foresight.

Slow down.

If you need five hundred dollars by the end of the month, try to make fifty dollars by the end of the week and see where it takes you.

Life is a much better teacher than opinion. So learn from experience.

And to do so, slow yourself down so you can enjoy the scenery and see the berries hanging from the trees as you go by, and never be hungry.

Just like a teenager, money will try to run your life if you don’t develop a sense of humor and know that you are in charge.

Teenagers don’t have to be insufferable brats. But to stop them, just like with money, you have to make it clear who’s boss.

 

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Save Your Village… March 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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puddle water

I like to go to public parks to work on my writings and stuff. The scenery, atmosphere and intrusive clatter–well, I find exhilarating. Yet you do have to share the space with every living creature who habitates within.

Such was the case yesterday when a guy named Bunky came into my three square feet.

He was thirty-one years old and just as slight as I am husky, and wiry as I am cumbersome. We shared very little in common, but since proximity dictated either conversation or further social distancing, I jumped in.

Once I made my preliminary inquiries about his well-being, Bunky launched into a thirty-minute discourse on his life. Here are the highlights:

He had a nineteen-year-old girlfriend who is a junkie and needed him to go to work every day to get the money for her fix, so that she would not become violent and attack him. (In alternating presentations, she was referred to by Bunky as “lover, friend, enemy and bitch.”)

He had once been in a gang–I think it was the Crips–and told me he had killed a man, although he eyeballed me carefully to see if I was questioning his credibility. I didn’t. I saw no reason to authenticate a tale in progress.

He talked to me about the use of marijuana being helpful in relieving his back pain, brought on by years of working on cars, lying flat down on the hard concrete.

I wasn’t sure how long he was going to share, or if there would be a stopping point whatsoever–until his friends showed up. And then what had been a very intimate exchange was terminated as he rose to his feet, accepting the invitation of one of his cohorts, to go to another bench where they could smoke.

As quickly as it began it was over.

Being raised in a spiritual climate, I incriminated myself that I had not more sufficiently impacted Bunky’s world. It’s what we do best, you know. As human beings, we often “strain at the gnat and swallow the camel.” We criticize ourselves for what we don’t accomplish, while simultaneously failing to achieve what is set before us as our daily bread.

Let me share with you candidly, which is always my goal:

  • You are not going to change the world.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t do that.
  • He was smart enough to leave behind an example of exactly how things work.
  • Start where you are.

For you see, Bunky is not my problem There are many more qualified people to share, care and be aware of him than me. Here’s what I’m supposed to do:

  1. Find my village.
  2. Teach my village.
  3. Save my village.
  4. Let it travel.

I raised six boys in my household. For a brief period of human time, these young men sat at my table and listened to me expound on life. They also watched carefully to see if I followed up with my own choices. They were my village.

Also within that village was a handful of friends and comrades. They, too, were exposed to my experience.

I didn’t worry about changing a whole town, state or country. I found my village, I taught my village, I saved my village and then I let it travel.

Those young men met women and now their influence spreads from Miami to China to New York to Nashville to Dallas to Los Angeles. with films, music, business, ministry, recording, procreating and acting.

While some folks encourage me to spread out my influence as far as I possibly can, I would much rather have a thick spreading of peanut butter on a cracker than a thin application on a four-foot-long piece of French bread.

It’s simple–stop trying to change the world. Stop criticizing yourself for being ineffective.

  • Find your village, teach your village, save your village–then let it travel.

And always remember–leave your image in the puddle provided.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Quatrain of the Journey … March 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2166)

Arizona Chino Valley

Nothing looks the same

Moving through the world

I find my place

More than passing scenery

 

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Why-ny… March 19, 2013

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  • Why did this happen?
  • Why didn’t God do something?
  • Why me?

Common questions. Yes, common and permissible to ask–ONE time. If you persist in dribbling off these particular inquiries over and over again, you will soon be faced with a fourth “why”: why am I so alone?

Because even though we human beings are sympathetic about the above questions, after a very short time, our toleration disappears, and we look at people who continue to foster such aggravation as being “why-ny”–too many why’s.

It is a law of human nature–but I believe it is also a spiritual law. For a brief season we are allowed to reflect on our dilemmas IF at the end of that reflection we achieve a resolution. “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” It is how we are hard-wired–and we are certainly not aided by anemic psychologists and theologians who insist that the above questions have no answers.

I am a very simple man with limited education, but I can assuredly tell you  the answer to each of the questions:

1.Why did this happen? It happened because we missed a warning sign. Maybe we ignored one. Maybe we were asleep at the wheel when the scenery told us that things were changing. But the true beauty of life is that things are evolving. And the true danger in life is that things are evolving. If you pay attention to the world around you, you usually end up escaping about seventy per cent of your difficulties.

2. Why didn’t God do something? This question only exists because we teach the ridiculous notion that “God has a plan for everybody’s life.” The Bible and all that’s sensible lets us know that human beings are free-will creatures. What God offers is a system called the natural order, which can be studied, learned and even manipulated, by the way, to our benefit. If you don’t want to study and you don’t want to learn, you will find yourself at the mercy of some aspect of these processes, lifting your hands to heaven, asking God to save you from your own lack of involvement. Once you understand that we are free-will creatures and that God has set in motion a magnificent universe of possibilities, then you will become a student instead of a victim and realize that God blesses by giving us wisdom.

3. Why me? It was your turn. I don’t know if you want to call it “luck” or refer to it as “time and chance,” but sometimes we are at the wrong place at the wrong time, which needs to happen to balance out the numerous occasions we celebrate being at the right place at the right time. Everybody takes their turn at the wheel. Sometimes that wheel is success and sometimes it’s adversity.

So how can we keep from being why-ny–constantly reliving our lamentations about the conditions in which we find ourselves? Here is a simple three-step process I recommend:

A. Love what is true. Don’t be afraid of the truth, even when it’s not favorable. It will swing around and STILL make you free.

B. Hope for something new. Never convince yourself that you’re stuck where you are–as long as you have enough talent to be multiplied by taking on fresh experiences.

C. Have faith in what you do. Trusting God is a good thing as long as you trust the part of God that’s in you, which is called your talent. God is unable to help anyone who thinks they are without resource. Keep doing what you do, even while you’re seeking for something new and loving what is true.

If you do this, you won’t find yourself “why-ny.”

If you don’t, be prepared to have lots of time on your hands to further commiserate … because no one will want to be around you.

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