The Day We Met

I had no idea the person I’d just met (38 years ago yesterday) would change my life forever, and almost entirely for good (the “almost” is purely subjective—those are the parts Trudy2 1982of each other we haven’t finished fixing yet). I’m not sure who I’d be if I hadn’t met Trudy, but I do know I wouldn’t like him as much as I do the man she’s making me into.

I had no idea what was to come when I spotted this remarkably pretty girl amidst the 200+ members of a mass church choir. All I knew was that I couldn’t stop sneaking glances at her. And then, when she showed up a few nights later at our church’s drama group meeting, I thought, “She acts, she sings, she’s beautiful—what’s not to like?”

We had no idea when we went out for our first cuppa joe (we both loved coffee) that it was the beginning of a circuitous path that would lead to a lifetime together. Were we “soul mates”? Maybe from God’s perspective. But from our perspective, we were two very 25th Anniversary4different people who would need to do a lot of rubbing and polishing before we “fit.” Maybe we made each other into soul mates (“as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”). But at any rate, fit we did. And fit we do.

Where will the path lead from here? We don’t know, we only know that we’ll be on it together. And we wouldn’t have it any other way, even though the day we met…

We had no idea.

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Peru: Rhythm of the Amazon

Presentation1My Featured Blogger this week is Randall Collis of Global Sojourns Photography. Randall, a businessman and resident of Hong Kong, has expanded into freelance writing and photography. He travels internationally, capturing some of the most intriguing and exquisite images I’ve seen anywhere. He posts these photos on his blog site, along with his thoughts on life and philosophy. Visit and you’ll see why Randall has captured not only images, but followers, as well.

Global Sojourns Photography

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Every morning the Amazon wakes me with a new symphony. One day the tempo of the rain, next day the pulsating sounds of howler monkeys, and today it’s the electric strain of sunrise matching the beat of my heart.

Even with little sleep, the rhythm of the day has me fired up with what lies ahead. Granted, a cup of coffee would help the process but the Amazon found a solution to this as well by placing a large spider and her web inside my bed netting to jolt me awake.

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Hiking along the riverbank, I can’t get over how natural this place feels. The jungle and river give off energy – a rhythm – in tune with every movement of my body. I feel transformed, in sync with my surroundings.

All this beauty is not just seen through my eyes, but felt with all my senses. I’ve found my…

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My Real Memoir (Maybe)

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Those who visit frequently may have noticed that I tend to post memoir entries at the start of each week. These used to be called “Memoir Mondays” because I like alliteration. But lately, for practical reasons (much to the vexation of my OCD) they’ve turned into Tuesdays. (Did you see how I subtly used alliteration there, OCD?)

Until now, the order of my memoir posts has been non-chronological (sorry, OCD). I simply wrote about whatever popped into my head, or themed the post around a continuing topic (scars, food, career, my spiritual journey).

However, for some time I’ve had a desire to write a real memoir, as in a book, or more likely a couple of books. And so it occurred to me that if I started doing weekly memoir posts in chronological order, I could lay the groundwork for My Real Memoir (and get my OCD off my back).

So…

Thus beginneth the Life of Mitch: “It was a dark and stormy night, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” No, wait, that would be 2021 (and a smidge unoriginal). Let’s go further back…

According to Ancestry.com, the first Teemley, Conrad (whose father was not named Teemley) came to America from Germany. He married a sweet German girl with the same first, last, and middle name as his mother. OK, that’s kinda creepy. Except that Conrad’s mother wasn’t his mother. Which is to say that, apparently Conrad was illegitimate (I’ve been called a bastard a few times, but never realized it was historical).

And his wife? No actual relation to Conrad’s same-named cheated-on non-mom, but a woman with a completely different set of parents (whew). Only, she didn’t have the same name as her father either. Say what? (Sagen was?)

And, adding to the mystery, according to AncestryDNA.com, I have no German blood! Because, even though Conrad and Eva were German-born, they weren’t actually Germans. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that they were international spies serving undercover as stodgy 19th century farmers. Or could it be Ancestry.com is confused? Nein!

This is going downhill fast. Let’s fast-forward a bit.

“Chapter One: I Am Born.” I was born in Whittier, California, the birthplace of Richard M. Nixon, to whom I’m also not related (whew). “So you won’t have me to kick around anymore” (that’s funny if you’re old).

Oops, out of time.

Until next week, meine freunde, auf wiedersehen!

Said the maybe-not-German memoirist.

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Truth Is a Hard Path

David John Terry (pinterest.com)Photo: David John Terry (pinterest.com)

Thought for the Week

Truth is not comforting. It’s a hard path to stay on. It’s rocky and unpredictable, refusing to show us what we wanted to see, taking us where it will, rather that where we wanted it to. Meanwhile, crowds gather on both sides, basking in the false light of being “right–right now,” and vilifying all who refuse to join them. Why? Because, as Thomas Merton once said:

“We desire not the truth, but rather that our lie should be proved ‘right’ and our iniquity be vindicated as ‘just.’ This is what we have done to pervert our natural, instinctive appetite for truth. No wonder we hate. No wonder we are violent.”

But keep walking. Because it’s truth, not being “right,” that leads us home and sets us free.

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Live Godly Lives

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More and more, we find ourselves living in an environment we weren’t made for. We find that, as Peter says, we are ‘aliens and strangers’ in this world. The worship of God is not the norm, in fact, the worship of everything but God is, especially self. “You shall be as God,” says the serpent in Genesis 3:5, and that has been our world’s dominant belief system ever since. Yes, it’s hard to live godly lives in an environment that’s hostile to worship and prayer, that views such beliefs as naïve and even evil. But let us do so anyway. Because our lives and the lives of many others depend upon it. ~Prayer is Air

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2021: So Far…

January, 2021

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Wage Peace!

Right now, my country and many others are in desperate need of peacemakers, people who can bridge the gaps that others cannot bridge. Peacemaking is the opposite of weakness, it is strength in its purest form. Yes, peacemakers use words, but they also take risks. Because standing in the gap between two angry factions means taking fire – from both sides. Still, if not now, when? And if not us, who?

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show.

“The love of conflict is most evident when opposing forces join sides to defeat the peacemaker.” ~Criss Jami

“Be a peacemaker by creating peace whenever you can. If you find yourself engaged in an argument that only stirs anger in the heart, quickly make peace and carry on.” ~Suzy Kassem

“When there is peace in the self, there is peace in the world.” ~Abhijit Naskar

“Sometimes the simplest solution out of conflict is becoming someone’s friend, instead of saying goodbye forever.” ~Shannon L. Alder

“There is an unconscious influence about the true peacemaker that leads every man he meets to love his fellow men.” ~F.W. Boreham

   “It’s useless to disarm the hands, if the heart remains armed.”      ~Bangambiki Habyarimana

     “Kindness is universal. Sometimes being kind allows others to see the goodness in humanity through you. Always be kinder than necessary.” ~Germany Kent

         “God sees the child He created in the fool that sees neither.”            ~Craig D. Lounsbrough

“A peacemaker is not merely someone who protests against the war; he is one who is inwardly so yielded to Christ in spirit and purpose that he can be called a ‘son of God.’ Where he goes, God goes and where God goes, he goes.” ~Francis Frangipane

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The Future of the Human Race–2021 Edition

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Life as we know it is nearly over. Seriously. Not because of the in-progress worldwide pandemic or political upheaval, but because of what’s been happening in labs and human culture for the last several decades. I first published this prognosis in 2014, and then revised it in 2016, omitting a highly speculative timeline. A few of the dynamics have changed, but for the most part this is still how I see “life as we know it” ending. Here’s how the future could play out:

Phase One—Wearability – It all started when computers met their soul mate, the internet. Almost Google-releases-Project-Glass-video-capture-and-details-expands-pre-ordersovernight, people became addicted to being connected. But we couldn’t take it with us–until portable computers and smartphones arrived. But wearables haven’t caught on the way portables have. So far. Wearables like Google Glass and Apple Watch are now quietly being reinvented for more essential uses like augmenting sight and hearing, and even memory loss. At some point they will become “necessary” the way portables now are.

Phase Two—Virtuality – Sorry, Oculus, but the real news isn’t in VR (virtual reality), it’s in AR (augmented reality), the transformation of those game-goggles into wearable computers. Soon we’ll use in-the-air keyboards and move virtual objects around with our hands; we’ll look at products in supermarkets and immediately know how fresh they are and what people think of them. And, sure, it would be cool if we could dodge a few zombies or gladiators while squeezing tomatoes. But, again, the real change will come when AR becomes “necessary.”

Phase Three—Implantability – Wait. Why look through clunky goggles when microprocessors under your skin can send signals directly to your optic, auditory and other nerves? (All of the following technology is either in use or in development.) Why not listen to how_works_medBeethoven or watch Fast and Furious 27 in your head while savoring Chicken Kiev and vintage vodka—calorie free? But more importantly, there’ll be life-changing fixes for the blind and deaf, along with smartchips that keep our hearts, lungs, and other organs going; floating nano-drones will locate and destroy mutated cells before they can replicate. No more heart disease. No more cancer. Longevity will take a quantum leap. Forget AR, BR (blended reality) will become the new norm!

Phase Four—Enhancability – Which will come first, the Singularity, the point at which computers surpass their creators (and eliminate them)? Or the Cyborg Era, the point atnexusae0_iron_man_mark_vii_hud_design_by_jayse_hansen_1400_thumb
which chip-enhanced humans acquire super-human physical and mental capabilities like VESP (virtual ESP–my term), the ability to communicate with one another via transmitted thoughts (early versions of this technology exist now). Will researchers (as some are now attempting) sustain life by transferring human consciousness into computers? Or will Google already have “solved death” (one of their current goals)?

Phase Five—Immortality – Why make computer chips out of nonliving substances when you can make them out of living cells that replicate and repair themselves? Antarean
As far back as the 90’s there were experiments in computing using atoms. By this point humans will have reached a new stage of self-directed evolution; they will no longer be homo-sapiens. (Many “posthumanists” and “transhumanists” believe this stage has already begun.) There will be humans with Hulk-like strength, or wings, or gills for living under water (will this result in new social structures?). Will we have solved the limitations of movement through space-time (think warp drive)? But wait…

Phase Six—Angel (or Demon)-ality — If consciousness can be transferred to computer bits made up of atoms, why can’t it be transferred to light particles (photons)? imagesMatter-based existence will, at some point, seem intolerably primitive. Why eat, sleep, defecate, and physically reproduce (well, OK, some of these things are fun) when consciousness can inhabit light waves, enabling us to move through space-time at the speed of light. If aliens exist, maybe we can’t see them because they are just such non-material beings.* Such creatures would, from a human perspective, seem infinite, omniscient. They would seem like angels.

Or demons (2 Corinthians 11:14). Because unless true goodness—ethics, selflessness, the divine agape love of the Greek New Testament—emerges as the sole motive of angelo-futurus, the future will not be heaven, it will be hell.

What about God? Will he shut everything down at some point, a la the tower of Babel? (Genesis 11:6-7)  Or will he intervene in a literal rendition of the prophecies of Daniel and St. John the Divine? Will there be a war against God? (Revelation 16:16)

cross-in-sunset-sky-620x330Having brought us through the process, one way or another, I pray that the One whom we no longer see “through a glass darkly, but face-to-face” (1 Corinthians 13:12) will say, “Well done, good and faithful servants…come and share your master’s joy!” (Matthew 25:23)

*C.S. Lewis first proposed this in Out of the Silent Planet (1938). Non-material doesn’t mean “see-through,” by the way; such beings would be far more real than we are–our bodies consist almost entirely of empty space.

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Light and Hope…

My Featured Blogger this week is Suzanne of Ellie894. Suzanne is a lover of all living things (her blog site is named after a beloved Labrador Retriever). She lives in East Texas with her family, which includes “four busy pups and one tortoise shell cat.” I’ve followed Suzanne for some years now, and always enjoy her lyrical prose. But I think this post–about her unexpected relationship with one of God’s most fleeting and beautiful creations–particularly illustrates Suzanne’s love all living things. (Bring tissues.)

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In the spring I plant morning glories. Heavenly blue is the name on the seed packet, and they certainly are all of that! I hope they will begin to flower in the summer. But, it is autumn when they reach their most beautiful.

Some years I get the seeds tucked away in the dirt nice and early. They have taken over whole fences at times! When I am not careful enough in my placement, they have taken over other plants with their exuberant tendrils. Not so good.

Some years, I am late and so are the flowers. This year was somewhere in between early and late. I planted the seeds and I waited. The vines curled upward. The delicate heart shaped leaves multiplied. I had hope.

I waited for the first sign of a flower in June. Nothing and nothing and nothing….

The days sort of melted and meandered. I…

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A Hero Comes Home

My first musical hero died this week. In fact, given the role music has played in my life, it would be accurate to call him one of my first heroes, period. Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers, along with The Beatles, helped lead the 60s British music “invasion.”

By the time I fell in love with guitars, solid-bodied surf guitars (“planks”), were passé.* Amusingly, the British bands favored the bigger, semi-hollow-bodied pre-surf guitars of their heroes, 50s rockers like Elvis and Chuck Berry.

george-harrison-tennesseanEveryone was copying The Beatles (as did I a bit later), so I copied Gerry. Gerry played a big, boxy Gretsch guitar way up on his chest. And that, to me, was the epitome of cool. So when I bought my first electric guitar, it was a Gretsch—just like Gerry’s. And I played it way up on my chest—just like Gerry. Although later I had to lower it because, frankly, my arms were longer than Gerry’s. (My best buddy Marc bought a Gretsch–just like George Harrison’s).

Gerry and the Pacemakers aren’t icons like The Beatles (only the Stones and The Who come remotely close to that). But for a time they were The Beatles’ biggest rivals with catchy, feel-good rock ‘n’ roll in the style of their hero Buddy Holly (whose band The Crickets inspired The Beatle’s name). The Pacemakers were the other big group in Liverpool’s “Merseybeat” music scene. They had the same manager and the same producer. In fact, Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin championed them early on and created the stirring string arrangements behind Gerry’s haunting ballads “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”

Although Gerry grew up a generation earlier than me, and 5,000 of miles away, we shared the same Irish-English background and the same deep, wistful longing for home. I was almost too choked-up (almost) to join in with Gerry as he sang in his lilting tenor about coming home, in the movie Ferry Cross the Mersey (see video above):

People around every corner
They seem to smile and say
We don’t care what your name is boy
We’ll never turn you away

So I’ll continue to say
Here I always will stay

So ferry, cross the Mersey
‘Cause this land’s the place I love
And here I’ll stay
And here I’ll stay
Here I’ll stay

Gerry is home forever now. Beside the Mersey. And in my heart.

Ξ

*Note: Those “surf guitars” made a huge come-back in 60s blues-rock (Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton et al), and are now considered the quintessential rock guitars.

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