Back through the years, I go wonderin’ once again, back to the seasons of my youth…

Dolly Parton from “Coat of Many Colors”

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

All I remember about Copenhagen is the iconic little mermaid statue in the city’s harbor and the best caviar I’ve ever eaten.

In my earlier life, I had a wanderlust and traveled extensively. I may have one trip left in me, but I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about Iceland, but the desire to get on a plane with crazies and travel again is not as strong as it once was.

These days, as in Dolly’s song, I no longer need to wander because I now travel in my mind. I am blessed with a good memory and lament those with dementia who lose their treasure trove of life.

It’s funny what you remember. Recently, a friend and I were discussing memories and how quirky they sometimes seem to be. I’m no neurosurgeon, but I told my friend that some brain surgery has to be done with the patient awake and responsive. And sometimes the neurosurgeon’s probe touches an area of the brain that triggers a vivid memory.

It might surprise you to learn that the brain itself cannot feel pain. All the brain’s perceptions originate from the sensory organs throughout the body and are projected to the brain for interpretation. Consequently, after the neurosurgeon anesthetizes the scalp, bony cranium, and the coverings of the brain, he can then operate on diseased areas while using the awake patient’s awareness to avoid critical structures.

It’s been 50 years since I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, so I can’t recall other details. However, neuroscientists hold that a lifetime of memories may be stored in various areas of the brain. So, I suspect I have other stored memories of Copenhagen and all the other places I’ve been throughout my life. However, I don’t plan to have a neurosurgeon search for those other stored reflections!

My thoughts of Copenhagen were stimulated by the TV drama, “Borgen,” which is playing on Netflix. Becky and I are always searching for something worthwhile to watch on TV. Apparently, this show is the rage in Europe, and we find it intriguing because it deals with a parliamentary form of government and the machinations of politicos. The show’s characters are compelling and demonstrate human complexities and frailties at work in politicians and the rest of us.

The holiday season is approaching. I’ve even begun to see Christmas decorations, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! This year, Becky and I will try to hold off on our annual pilgrimage through Christmas movies until after Thanksgiving. We think we can do this because we’re also enjoying the Netflix series “Life on Our Planet” which is also very good. I am chagrined to give a shout-out to Netflix because I don’t care for their politics. However, I give credit where credit is due.

So, since I’ve started with the shout-outs, I’ll finish with the proviso that I am not paid to plug or bash anyone. I’ve previously complimented the impactful worship services at Sevier Heights Church and my local Kroger’s grocery. And I’ll add Knoxville’s annual Nativity Pageant to my thumbs-up list.

It is obvious to my readers that I admire my editress, who is also my wife. Those who know us realize I married well and Becky has improved me and my grammar. I won’t enumerate her manifold qualities, but we are still compatible after 48 years. I suspect this is in part because we both love Claxton Fruit Cake and Chick-fil-A!

One aspect of the Holiday Season that most don’t have to consider is a deadline. To allow The Knoxville Focus staff time to be with their families at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, columnists operate on a shortened week. Perhaps others are better organized, but every year I never seem to get it together, even though I’ve had to deal with shortened holiday schedules for the last 14 years. And by Myers & Briggs criteria, I’m not a procrastinator!

I’m not whining, I’m just explaining and looking for enough worthy material to fill two 1000-word columns in the space of eight days. Journalists seem to be able to do this regularly, but I am NOT a journalist!

I have a friend who shares my love of memes which combine pictures with pithy comments. In my second career, I’ve become an acceptable writer. However, I find that movies and memes can sometimes convey a perspective better than the written word. My friend and I also share emails and he recently sent me a story I’d like to share with you and as closure for this somewhat abbreviated essay; I need to get to work on the next essay!

I’m no western rancher, but I’m told that storms often come from the west and when cattle on the “lonesome range” see a storm coming towards them they understandably turn and run away from the storm. On the other hand, buffalo, who are native to the western plains, turn into the approaching storm. The result is that cattle endure the storm’s fury for a longer duration, whereas buffalo push through the storm and shorten the misery.

I love the movie “Dances with Wolves.” Becky and I have been to the Black Hills of South Dakota and seen where the movie was filmed. And we have driven (slowly!) among the herds of iconic buffalo that wander everywhere and across roads.

The buffalo story has become one of Becky’s favorites, and we both believe there is a profound lesson to be considered: Ignoring or running away from problems only emboldens your enemies and prolongs the storm. We must square our shoulders to the storms of life, and, like the buffalo, push through. And even though the Apostle Paul never knew of buffalo, I believe he would have agreed with their approach to the storms of life (Romans 5:3-5).