Mourning Becomes Elective

Photo by Yousef AlfuhigiPhoto by Yousef Alfuhigi

When I was a young man, I began searching for the meaning of life. Along the way, I wrote a travel journal, a mix of prose and poetry, and labelled it Fool’s Odyssey.

Having failed to find “the reason,” or rather having discovered it and lost track of it, I’d returned to L.A. It was morning, and I wanted nothing so much as to just go and wander in the mountains.

But it was still dark. So I sat in that ancient airport lounge watching the planes come in and go out, and the lights blink off and on, until Dawn finally came hesitatingly in and sat down on the runway. And then, in deference to its timidity, I suppose, Night gathered up her sleeves and went off to work in the eastern hemisphere.

It reminded me of some graffiti* I’d seen on a restroom wall:

“The meek shall inherit the earth (if that’s okay with the rest of you).”

That was how I felt: meek. Because I saw for the first time in my life that we were all just interlopers, pretending to have a purpose. And then I realized I’d been playing the most awful game: I’d gone to seek wisdom, understanding—truth. But naturally, I’d brought with me a set of requirements:

“All auditionees for the role of truth must first prove themselves to be consistent with my philosophy.”

Who else, after all, could judge for me what was true “for me?” It seemed irrefutable (or inevitable, at any rate). But then I saw the flaw:

I’d begun by reluctantly acknowledging that I didn’t know the truth (no one seeks to find a thing he already has). But by insisting that all auditionees for truth must first agree with what I already believed, I was insisting that nothing but affirmations of my own familiar thoughts be admitted.

What a horrible game.

And everyone I knew was playing it.

I got up and stuffed my hands in my pockets (I felt like the cover of an old Bob Dylan album), and went and got my little VW out of hock.

Truly the light is sweet, said the wise man,

and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun.

Yet if a man lives many years and rejoices in them all,

still let him remember the days of darkness,

for they shall be many.

And all that is to come is vanity.

~Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

*A graffito (for you grammar-Nazis)


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About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Fool's Odyssey, For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Mourning Becomes Elective

  1. Pingback: Hanging From the Ledge of Heaven | Mitch Teemley

  2. rwfrohlich says:

    You created a real mood with this airport scene. An airport can be one of the most crowded and one of the most lonely places on earth.
    But about the VW. I’ve owned a 68 Bug, a 96 Golf, and a 2000 Passat.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Abe Austin says:

    Every way of a man is right in his own eyes- Proverbs 21:2

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So beautiful and touching… I could read it again and again!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. revruss1220 says:

    So powerful and so profoundly true. “All auditionees for the role of truth must agree with my personal philosophy.” It is a low bar to set, but one that whole bunches of us seem to readily adopt.

    Here’s to an increased capacity to welcome a little cognitive dissonance into our carefully ordered paradigms. Who knows? It might just be Truth in different guise.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. numrhood says:

    ecclesiastes 11:09 missing
    ecclesiastes 13: jesus is the same
    as today & now
    love is patient
    love is kind


  7. Most people don’t want to hear the truth, they just want assurance that what they already believe is the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not wanting any truth except what agrees with you is like these people who want God, but they want Him on THEIR terms. (Doesn’t that sorta defeat the purpose of a god?)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. “All auditionees for the role of truth must first prove themselves to be consistent with my philosophy.”

    This is spot-on!! I feel like so many of us are very guilty of this mentality!!

    Liked by 2 people

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