Fool’s Odyssey 1

Fool's Odyssy

A Brief Introduction

When I was a young man, I began searching for the meaning of life–because that’s what young men do. I abandoned my former atheism and started reading the words of Jesus. But uncertainty and pride caused me to stop mid-leap-of-faith and review the options: “How (or for whom) should I live?” I asked myself (the one person who clearly did not have the answer).

So I went to Europe–because that’s what young men do–scribbling my thoughts into bits of broken verse as I travelled.

I eventually returned home with a satchel of thoughts. Seeking a way to organize them, I turned to the Book of Ecclesiastes, the journal of Quoheleth, the wise man. Like him, I had searched for a way–or rather a reason–to live. Like him, I had tried various “isms” along the way: Materialism, Sensualism, Idealism. And like him, I had experienced the emptiness (“vanity”) of each. In the end, he and I arrived at the same cistern, each realizing we knew nothing.

Which is the beginning of knowing something.

Then I read Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God,'” and I knew I’d found my role in this parallel odyssey.

The words of the wise man,

the son of David,

the king in Jerusalem.

The words of the fool;

the sun had set,

the time had come.

Fool's Odyssey


Prologos: Ash Wednesday


vanity of vanities,” said the wise man;

“all is vanity and chasing after wind.


And one generation passes away,

and another one comes in its stead;

the earth abideth forever, they say,

but you never can quite get ahead.


And all of the rivers run into the sea,

yet the sea is never quite full.

Then unto the place from whence they came

the rivers flow again.


And that which has been is that which shall be,

and that which is done is that which shall be done,

and nothing there is–that is, nothing that’s new–

there’s nothing new under the sun. 



Well this is hell, said the fool.

You know for the life of me, I couldn’t tell

if I was that proverbial puppy chasing his tail,

or a mischievous kitten after that ever-unraveling ball of yarn.

I mean either one was the same to me,

perceivable only as a wisp of something or other.


But here’s the reason why I had to know:

If only the tip of mine own tenacious tail,

then the end was bound to be disappointing. O!

But if the tip of a bit of a ball of yarn,

then even though itself unraveled to nothingness,

itself–in time, I thought–

might lead me back to where it all began,

and to the one who raveled it up.

To read Fool’s Odyssey 2, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Fool's Odyssey, Poetry, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Fool’s Odyssey 1

  1. atimetoshare says:

    I can totally relate to this!😃

    Liked by 1 person

  2. theancients says:

    I really like this post. Ecclesiastes is a book I sort of expected most (i.e. non-believers) can relate to or even garner some wisdom from, so imagine my surprise when speaking to a so-called de-convert who cited this particular book as the reason for their ‘de-conversion’.
    [I went back to get their exact wording but the site has been deleted]. Basically, their reason was that the author of Ecclesiastes was saying all was meaningless, which I found to be a very weird and dubious misunderstanding of the book, especially for one who previously identified as Christian.

    Anyway, I love your point… it’s when we realize we know nothing, then we discover the beginning of wisdom.
    And as another says: when we’ve reached the end of ourselves, there we will find the beginning of God.
    A truly profound post! Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nitin says:

    This is beautiful at so many level. The questions about the existence. The will to go out and explore. And then in fact going out, filling in the bucket of your mind, nurturing it with experience. It’s morning in India, and I think I got lucky and fount out this post of yours. It is extremely fulfilling. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonderful post! I really like “this is the beginning of knowing something” and how you continued. Thank you for sharing your walk of faith and writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are an amazing writer, Mitch. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always, I stand inspired today and thank you for the breath of a much needed reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dvaal says:

    So good. I wanted to repost it -to show others your journey but since it was continued I was afraid the rest might pass me by.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. You have the not-all-that-common gift of approachable eloquence — you write beautifully and sincerely without getting snarled in syntax (as I often do). Great work!

    I also laughed when I saw the title “Fool’s Odyssey”…when I was setting up my own blog — an “experimental” platform for writing exercises that I hope to build into an actual novel — I was trying to think of clever titles, and for about 3 days went with that one :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thank you, Charles, but, oh, I’ve spent plenty of time snarled in syntax. I too was surprised to discover the title in use by several authors, but this piece has been called that since an early draft in the 80s, so I decided not to change it. Good to connect with a fellow fool. ;>)


  13. another gem to add to my reading list… 🙂 thank you so much…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Fool’s Odyssey 7 | Mitch Teemley

  15. I loved your line: “I asked myself (the one person who clearly did not have the answer).” Doesn’t that always explain any mess we or are country are in?! I did the same thing in my late 20s. Oh, do I regret that!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Ah, I understand, Heather. But, although I’ve done many things I regret, the journey recounted in Fool’s Odyssey is not one of them; it led to a clearer, brighter place.


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  35. milesmb3 says:

    Love the distinction you make between the puppy and kitten metaphor!

    Liked by 1 person

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  38. I’m glad I got to read this, Mitch. After reading your blog for several years now, I hadn’t known you were also a talented poet! Did the clove-smokers dig it too?

    Liked by 1 person

  39. mitchteemley says:

    Yes, actually, the clove-smokers responded enthusiastically. ;>) Thanks!


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