Melvyn’s Clock … February 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Melvyn's CloskI would characterize an adventure as being a disaster that swerves to safety just short of crashing into the brick wall, where all occupants walk away, relieved.

Such was the decision on my part, to take three of my sons, my daughter-in-law, my partner, Janet and myself to Phoenix, Arizona, back in 2008, to make a movie called Melvyn’s Clock.

What can I tell you about Melvyn’s Clock? It was a screenplay I wrote: Hitchcock collides with M. Knight Shyamalan, who surprises Stephen King on a dark road to pitch Death of a Salesman, culminating with some “blades” from Saw. More easily explained, it was an exhilarating mystery.

What was equally as mysterious was the concept of renting a three-bedroom condo for the amazingly low price of $1000 a month, and sticking my adult children in an enclosed area with their former father, caretaker and disciplinarian.

I thought it was amazing.

What made it amazing was that we arrived in town not knowing anybody, needing to make connections using only our talent, art, amiability and generosity. At the end of two months, we not only had a movie, but also held a premiere in Tempe that was packed. And even though the gentleman who played the part of Melvyn–the old man who walked through his town each day, interacting with people–yes, even though our actor regularly explained to folks that he was not really old enough to play the part, because he was still young and virile–the results were quite dazzling. Press coverage, television interviews, and after the premiere, there were even a couple of parodies made and released on the Internet–one called Melvyn’s Mock and an X-rated version called Melvyn’s Cock. (You’re not really successful until somebody makes fun of you…)

So when I arrived back in Phoenix just a couple of days ago, I thought about that adventure. I wondered if the same connection could be made through creativity. Is it possible, in a society which has become more jaded, to arrive in a community and generate the kind of empathy and faith among people which causes magnificent things to be produced?

I don’t know. But I think to merely have the debate–to discourage oneself without trying–is even worse than failing at the attempt.

So I’m back in Phoenix, to see what spark can be made to light a fire of possibility. This time I don’t have Melvyn’s Clock; nor do I have my sons and daughter-in-law with me.

But I do believe if we start attempting what others insist is impossible, we will open the door once again to the idea that faith with works is very much alive.

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click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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Losing It … August 17, 2012

  • Loser — Part 4
    (1,610)

“He that would gain his life…”

Behold, my dear, sweet friends. We are a nation of control freaks. Unfortunately, we only recognize the vice in others while failing to acknowledge the behavior in ourselves. When we are accused of being manipulative, we respond by saying that we’re only trying to take control, maintain control and eliminate defeat. It has become a mantra–defending indefensible positions with the idea that he who yells the loudest and curses the most will win the day and therefore, be proven correct.

Here’s an insight: there is an actual truth that often exists outside of our willfulness. With that reality at work, we must understand that when we take control and we are erred, those around us–and we ourselves–are in danger and at the mercy of poor judgment. If we maintain control without allowing in fresh ideas, then we are trapped in the scenario of our own making, which has already been proven to be unsuccessful (just look at the economy). If on top of taking and maintaining control, we insist that the way to eliminate defeat is to prove that we are walking in a victorious life, we will find ourselves needing to deceive, embellish and lie to keep from being discovered as a failure. This philosophy, although popular, is not only fallacious, but dangerous.

” … shall lose it.”

Yes. “He that would gain his life shall lose it.”

When you try to take control and you, yourself, are not really in control, you end up losing out because you’re ill-prepared for the natural hassle that comes along to question your authority. Hassle is the great equalizer that bypasses race, ethnicity, religion and gender–and just makes us all wiggle and squirm under the same uncomfortable conditions.

If you’re trying to maintain your control, you will find yourself in the dastardly position of being unwilling to evolve with the revelation of truth. Isn’t it amazing that we have fought wars to defend concepts that were already against our better interests? Hundreds of thousands of Americans died between 1861 and 1865 over the institution of slavery, which had already been determined by many nations of the world to be immoral and arcane. But the war raged because men and women were unwilling to evolve towards inevitability.

And the final reason that “he that would gain his life shall lose it” is that rather than being challenged and enlivened by difficulty and defeat, we are taught to recoil, pull up lame and be bruised by our setbacks. I don’t know whether we get an opinion on anything–it is a luxury that ignorant people often take, delaying a better path–but I tell you this: you definitely do not get an opinion on your losses. The only thing you can do is acknowledge them, learn from them, adjust to them and grow through the experience as you try afresh.

As you can see, the greatest opportunities in life do not occur when we are winning, but rather, by the repositioning we do when confronted by inevitable failure.

“He that will lose his life …”

Now THERE’S something nobody wants to do. But we’re not speaking of totally forsaking all of our individuality, but instead, just taking a moment to count the cost of the pressing transition that is coming our way. Yes–actually thinking about what is around the corner and how it may be different instead of assuming that yesterday’s life will be Xeroxed. If we finally relinquish our pettiness to the joyful conclusion that life IS changing, we have the ability to begin to maintain our good cheer. Good cheer is just the awareness that nothing is going to be the same, but God will go with us as long as we don’t give up.

This grants us the flexibility to do one of the more intelligent maneuvers in life–adapt quickly. Everyone who stands against a reasonable premise ends up being ground under by the wheels of progress.

Count the cost of change. Maintain your good cheer and adapt quickly. It may feel like you’re losing your life, or at least your sense of domination, but it always ends up …

“…shall gain it.”

Yes, “he that will lose his life shall gain it” because he or she will avoid the delay caused by stubbornness. I’ve even seen folks who knew they would eventually have to give into new ideas continue to dig their heels in to make some sort of foolish point about their freedom to object. What a waste of time. If you’re not stubborn, you can actually join the committee and be involved in the process of the change.

I do not know what is going to happen in this country on any given issue, but there is one central theme that is universal in the United States of America: we never take liberty away from any individual without paying the price and feeling completely foolish afterwards. Every race and nationality has taken its turn at being the underdog, and those who stubbornly held that position and repelled these individuals always ended up looking like the villains in a Stephen King movie–black hats and all.

If you can be involved in the process of change, you get the privilege of surviving, to end up living better.

“He that would gain his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life (for my sake),” Jesus said, “shall gain it.”

Losing is not painful. It is predictable. It is what we spend most of our time doing and the least amount of time training for. How ridiculous.

  • Just like the Olympic athletes who win bronze, we need to take as much out of the experience as we possibly can without insisting that we’re all equally winners.
  • Just like Jesus, who hung on a cross, sometimes the reasons for our affliction are not obvious on Day One. Often, it is on the third day that we will rise to the occasion.
  • And just like me, you don’t need to feel beautiful to do beautiful things. Apparently, only one person is the prettiest, so everybody else better get a grip, because beauty will not win the day. Wisdom always trumps comeliness.
  • And if you would gain your life, you must learn how to lose. Lose with style, grace, awareness, flexibility and good cheer.

May I close this whole series with three easy-to-remember thoughts?

1. Don’t be sure, be pure. (Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know–and be prepared to know more.)

2. Don’t resist, persist. (Keep moving towards liberty and justice for all. God is always right there somewhere in the midst.)

3. Don’t be right, capture the light. (The ability to win an argument is not a guarantee that you’ve won the day. There are principles at work that will always carry on no matter how well you argue and fuss about your own opinion.)

Losers–we share it in common. It makes us love each other. It’s what we all understand about each other. It’s what makes us all … brothers and sisters.

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

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