How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

Satchel Paige

By Dr. Jim Ferguson
It’s finally over. For an adult, birthdays are not usually treated with fanfare. I guess this is because we’ve had so many. However, turning seventy was an exception for me. Instead of the usual “happy birthday” and perhaps a supper gathering of kith and kin, my 70th birthday celebrations spanned four days with three dinners, six presents, multiple cards, dozens of shout outs and a partridge in a pear tree. (Just kidding – I despise that song).

I’ll admit I was a bit overwhelmed, but in a positive way. One of my axioms is, “All of life is about being included.” And I was, more than I expected and undoubtedly more than I deserved. Usually, I am the instigator of parties, celebrations and travel for my family. This time I was the recipient, and that was a blessing.

In antiquity birthdays were not particularly celebrated. The logic was that you must first accomplish something noteworthy. Ancient celebrations occurred at the end of days to laud a person’s life.

Birthdays are more important for kids, and we moderns love our children – at least we should. As I write this essay my grandson Oakley’s birthday celebration now spans a fortnight. When you’ve lived but nine years, one year is of greater importance than if you’ve lived seventy. Just do the math. And none of us remembers much of the first three years of our lives, so one year for my grandson is of even a greater significance.

A reader commented that my essays have recently had a different tone. I suspect he meant I have been less political than during annus horribilis (2020). Perhaps that is true. However, I assure you that my bed rock conservative principles have not changed, nor has my opinion of iPOTUS and his handlers. It is ludicrous to think that iPOTUS is in control of the border crisis that he created. And now we have gas shortages, increased hacking attacks, a looming Middle East war, inflation right around the corner because of poor fiscal policy, rising unemployment because it’s easier to pick up a government check than work, teachers refusing to teach children, democrat run cities in ruin with rising crime, Chinese agents everywhere and college campuses have become lunatic bins of wokeness. But I’m sure that “Sleepy Joe” is up to the task of managing all these problems. After all, the alphabet media assure us that “Joey Demento” is on his game.

You see I am fully capable of a polemical diatribe, but today I’m celebrating life, birthdays and spring. If you have not noticed the leaves with that special green of spring’s new life against an azure blue sky, go outside and open your eyes. The winter that was hanging on has now finally left us. My garden is planted, my fruit trees are full of early fruit, my pansies look Billy Crystal “mah-ve-lus” and ants have opened my peonies in splendor. I wonder if iPOTUS and Washington politicos notice spring. I think we’d all be better off if they would stop speechifying and just go outside to experience God’s creation.

I have observed that no matter how successful a writer becomes he will over time explore other genres of writing. An example is John Gresham’s hugely successful novels focused on legal issues and lawyers. Several years ago, Gresham unsuccessfully tried other directions, and eventually returned to the style that made him successful.

I began writing in 2001 in a spiritual journal. Then, I did op-ed pieces in the Sentinel for a year before becoming a columnist for The Knoxville Focus thirteen years ago. This summer I will publish my second novel, a science-based fictional yarn. I describe my style of writing as topically eclectic, but you be the judge.

For me writing is an avocation and I enjoy the creative process. In some respects, I see my column as a community service. It gives voice to those not heard or represented by traditional media. And I love a good story and fancy myself a raconteur at heart!

Though I am retired, my medical license remains in force and I still think like a doctor. A colleague was fretting over whether he should allow his medical license to lapse since he was also retired. Becoming a doctor was something he had worked hard to achieve and had become a part of his being. I assured him that a piece of paper issued by the government did not define him.

I am often asked medical questions by family and friends, and I am happy to oblige. A friend recently asked about using anxiety medication because she sometimes feels so distressed by the troubles we have in our country. This intelligent and committed patriot feels it is her duty to stay informed, but the “nattering nabobs of negativity” were poisoning her soul. I told her I sometimes feel similarly. We both feel it is our duty to stay informed and resist the pervasive evil. But just like soldiers who are sent back from the front for R&R (rest and relaxation), I told her it is sometimes necessary for me to turn off the news and go outside. In a war the options are fight, flight or surrender. My recommendation was not to medicate, but to turn off the TV for a while and recharge your soul.

More than fifteen years ago I wrote an essay entitled “The Barely Civil War.” Well, my observations and the title’s double entendre became reality. We are certainly engaged in a war with ourselves, and it is no longer civil. I believe it is our duty to resist the evil in our country, but it is OK to recognize when your soul is suffering and temporarily disengage.

Fortunately, we live in one of the most beautiful areas in the country, if not the world. The Doctor recommends you go outside, take a deep breath and look at all the goodness around you. Then reengage, resist, cast off your facial diapers and kick some “woke” butt!