Preparing to Give Thanks

Presentation1“Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~Epicurus

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” ~Alphonse Karr

“Remember, God causes all things to work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

         “If the only prayer you said was Thank You, that would      be enough.” ~Meister Eckhart

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Scheduling Happiness

waldenpond

It was 1987, and we were taking our first real vacation, thanks to the tremendous growth of the mutual fund into which I’d wisely poured our money. It was autumn, so we opted for New England, one of the few places that actually looks like a Photoshopped fall calendar.

After a bumpy start, literally—our plane bounced violently and then lurched to the left upon landing in Boston (Co-pilot to Pilot: “Wake up, Dave, we’re here”)—and a long delay getting to our foul smelling “view” hotel, which, in fact, featured a panoramic view of an industrial complex, my wife and I began irritably blaming each other.

All portents pointed to disaster. But we were there, so… We argued our way out of the reservation and drove in tense silence to a chain hotel at the edge of the city. When we got to our upper floor room, we were stunned: it had a breathtaking and completely unadvertised view. The cords of tension began to loosen. A little.

The next day, we drove to Walden Pond. As a young man, I’d cherished my copy of Thoreau’s Walden, and had always wanted to visit the book’s setting. What we saw immediately re-drew the image in my mind. Rather than the puddle I’d imagined, Walden Pond turned out to be a good-sized lake that mirrored the most beautiful color-saturated woods I’d ever seen. My wife and I walked, talked, prayed and forgave–and began falling back in love again. We determined for the rest of the trip to avoid all vestiges of “the real world” (newspapers, television). There would be only us and God, and His splendid handiwork.

The next day, we met up with one of my wife’s old friends. She commented on how “honeymoonerish” we were, and then asked what we thought about the “crash.” “What crash?” A quick glance in the Boston Globe revealed that, while we’d been placidly strolling Walden, the biggest bear in history had been charging down Wall Street. They were calling it “Black Monday.”

Thanks to my wise investment strategy, we were more financially in the hole than when we’d gotten married. Yet at the same moment we were relationally stronger than we’d ever been. Sensing the latter was far more important, we chose not to let bold Fear drive diffident Happiness away.

Our Autumn in New England was everything we’d hoped for and more. Because Happiness decided to join us for the rest of the trip. Our money took a little longer to show up, but a year later our mutual fund was actually worth more than it had been on Black Monday.

You can’t schedule happiness. But you can focus on the Waldens rather than the Wall Streets, on people rather than things. Because those are, coincidentally, what Happiness values the most. So when it does decide to visit,

it might just stick around for a while.  

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What You Are

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“But you, dear children, belong to God, and have already overcome the world, for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

~1 John 4:4

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Free Will

“My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”

406px-psm_v77_d418_william_james“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

~William James (considered the father of modern psychology)

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My Strange Moment with Mr. Reagan

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You can visit Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland by dodging the trolley, forgoing Goofy’s autograph, and hanging a hard right. As the curtains draw back, Mr. Lincoln rises painfully, his mechanical legs being bolted to the floor, and begins to speak, his warm baritone emanating from a hole in a desk several feet away. It’s stirring, but also, as the real Mr. Lincoln might say, “Kinda weird.”

I can say the same thing about My Strange Moment with Mr. Reagan.

I was an intern for a movie company located near the top of the building they blew up in Diehard. Or rather a miniature version of it. That is, the building they blew up in the movie was miniature, not the one I was working in. Because, I mean, if the building I was working in had been miniature… Anyway, one day I arrived earlier than usual and found myself standing next to two Men in Black. They glanced at me with annoyed “damn, there’s something on my shoe” looks. Then I spotted the instantly familiar auburn-grey pompadoured head of the man they were guarding.

The elevator dinged and all three stepped inside. I hesitated. The MiBs gestured for me to take another elevator. But Ronald Reagan smiled and said in that famous half-whisper, “It’s OK.” I hesitated just long enough for the portal to begin to close, then hurried in. The brushed aluminum doors bumped my foot, then scooted politely back, allowing me to slip inside. They shushed to a close again and the elevator started it’s glide to the top of one of the tallest buildings in L.A.

I broke the silence with a devilishly clever, “It’s an honor to meet you, sir.” (Bet he’d never had that one before!) More silence. And then, to my astonishment, he began to tell a story.

“Well,” (he really did say that), “when I was a young man just getting started, I landed a job at a radio station in Davenport, Iowa. And they had an elevator that—well, back in those days elevators had two sets of doors, you see: the wooden ones on the elevator itself and those big cast iron scissor doors on the cage around the elevator…” He smiled at the memory.

“Yeah?” I chuckled. Ronald Reagan was telling me an elevator story in an elevator! I was in the elevator and in on the joke! I’d be repeating it for the rest of my life: “Say, here’s a funny story my friend Ronald Reagan told me, you know, Ronald Reagan the President?”

“You never wanted to hesitate like you did just now,” Mr. Reagan explained, “when entering an elevator.”

“Why?” I asked with a chuckle. I’m interacting with the President! Me and the Gipper, the Gipper and me, freakin’ interacting! (I rarely say freakin’, but sometimes I think it.)

“Because those scissor doors…well, one day I’d just stepped into the elevator when this fella leaped in after me.”

“Yeah?” This was gonna be freakin’ great!

“Yep, but then those scissor doors, they closed on his foot and the wooden doors closed on his leg…”

“Yeah?”

“Well, that elevator starting going up. And you know what?”

“What?” I chortled.

“It ripped his leg off.”

Ding.

“Well, good-bye,” Mr. Reagan said as the doors to my floor glided open.

The MIBs gestured for me to step out. I obeyed, then turned and said, “Good—” But before I could finish, the doors slammed shut.

“—God.” I finished.

What had just happened?

Had what I thought was a humorous anecdote turned out to be a cautionary tale? Some kind of metaphor? Or was he merely—pardon the pun—pulling my leg? (“It was great, Nance. You should have seen the look on his face!”) Ronald Reagan Laughing
How had real suddenly turned surreal?

How had my great moment with Mr. Reagan become my strange moment with Mr. Reagan? I’ll never know. But it’s a moment I cherish, nevertheless. It was kind of stirring, but also, as Mr. Reagan might have said after the elevator doors closed, “Kinda weird.”

Note: This incident really occurred. It is not intended to make a statement. Neither is it a reference to Mr. Reagan’s Alzheimer’s (he was not reportedly suffering any major symptoms at the time). It was simply a weird, wonderful moment.

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A Filmmaker’s Journal

Note: Model in photograph, although strikingly similar in overall manly appeal, is not actually Mitch Teemley

A Novel Proposition

Exciting, terrifying news! I’m confabbing with a major publisher to do a novelization of my feature film Over-the-Rhine, both due for release in 2018!

Exciting because, well, duh. And terrifying because, in order to market the book and film synergistically (give yourself 50 smart points for knowing that word), I’ll have to finish the book, like, yesterday. I would have been terrified anyway, since I’m a writer and a writer is, by definition, someone who believes themself to be both: a) a prodigious genius on the verge of bestowing an inestimable gift upon the world, and, b) a deluded hack on the verge of discovering they have no right to occupy even the tiny tract of soil they currently crouch upon.

Honestly, I’ve been looking for an excuse to launch into another “big project,” and this is the one I’ve been aching to do. So even if this publisher ends up passing, I’ll finish the book and approach other publishers I (sort of) know.

I apologize in advance to my blogger buds if I miss a few house calls due to being waylaid in storyland. Also, many of my posts over the coming couple of months will probably be stream-of-consciousness quickies.*

Like this one.

*Not intended to sound suggestive–unless it makes me seem clever, then it’s intended.

Posted in Humor, Memoir, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments

The Wishing Map 91

Is there anything worse than causing another person, especially a child, to suffer?

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note:To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Nineteen: The Naim Games (Continued)

Previously: By pushing the childlike naims beyond what they could comprehend, Zack unintentionally sparked armed conflict!

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

Cries of dismay exploded from the Root Naims. Within seconds they were throwing rocks, bark, tree branches, anything they could put their hands on. This was matched by a shower of objects from the Leaf Naims. Because the field was so wide, the makeshift missiles failed to make it to the opposite side and fell instead on the heads of the children who’d been acting out the stories. Many dropped, bruised and lacerated, to the ground. Their parents screamed and scrambled to drag them out of harm’s way.

Bulgy led his followers onto the field. In their hands were bludgeons and maces, lances and pikes, bows & arrows. Zack suddenly…

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