By Dr. Jim Ferguson

Most of the time I write because it gives me joy. I do have other hobbies, but writing helps me clarify my thoughts and feelings. I’ve often encouraged patients to organize their feelings and scattered thoughts by writing them down. Some people have the gift of what politicians refer to as extemporaneous speaking, commonly known as “stump-speeches.” This idiom arose from times past when politicians would use any available stump to elevate themselves above the crowd and command people’s attention. Organizing your feelings before speaking is especially advisable in emotionally charged situations. Later, after the passions have subsided and your feelings are organized in your mind or on paper, you can deliver those thoughts from your notes or an available stump. Remember the wisdom of the Proverbist who advised speaking less and listening more.

This week I write out of duty more than joy. However, there is an element of therapy as well as I try and sort things out. Some have asked me how I can share my feelings with strangers. Often I find that writing is a catharsis for me. And since I write from the heart and from my core principles I have few problems with stump-speeches because at sixty-three years old I know what is right and what is not. Therefore, whether I write it in the Focus or shout it from a street corner, there is little danger that my message will be garbled by political correctness or a poor memory of something I said previously. Abraham Lincoln once said, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” Honest Abe was a politician of another era, and I venture to say he would be shocked by the repeated lies spewed by our politicians and covered up by a sycophantic media.

Actually, it is true that most of you know me better than I know you. Many of my readers are former patients who continue our relationships through The Focus. The weekly readership of The Knoxville Focus is over 50,000. Therefore, there are many more of you who only know my words and see my picture. And though I often write boldly and candidly, you can be assured there is more to me than the verbiage and a chintzy picture.

Many readers have asked me if I’ll ever run out of things to say. “Ever” is a long time and situations change. There may be a day when I have no more to say. There may come a day when I go away from these pages, though Simon & Schuster hasn’t offered me a book deal like they did Mrs. Clinton. Though all writers ache to be read, I doubt that the Doc Is In column would play well in New York, Chicago or San Francisco. Perhaps I’m like the gal dancing in the chorus line who has never been discovered by Hollywood. I’ll admit that I don’t have much stage presence, and I’ve never had a burning desire for fame. Andy Warhol (and Nat Finkelstein) collectively observed that “everyone wants to be famous” for “about fifteen minutes.” Too many copycat miscreants succumb to that pernicious notion. I have few illusions of being more than an average Joe’s doctor. So, I’ll just keep dancing my heart out back stage, at least until the legs wear out or the words run out.

Though I’m brokenhearted by the destruction of our country, and weighed down by a world aflame and other issues, there remains considerable joy in the Mudville I call my home. My daughter comes to town with her boyfriend this week and we are very excited. I feel like a teenage girl who has juicy gossip to share! And my other daughter is pregnant and we learned this week that Oakley and Noah will have a sister.

When considering good and bad times, the Greek philosopher Epicurus observed that God was either impotent to prevent bad things from happening or was unwilling to do so. As a result he renounced God. Later, Augustine would turn the tables and ask the question, “If there is no God why is there so much good in the world?” In more modern times C. S. Lewis observed that good is only so by comparison to a standard. To me the universal of goodness is God.

Yes, the world is in a mess and only the willfully blind would argue otherwise. I can’t help these poor souls, and can only offer my prayers and concerns that they figure out the pathway to successful living; a pathway that “makes life better now and affords a hope of then.”

I’ll close with another quote of someone far more famous than me. His words have been in my heart of lately. He said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

Well said Mr. Lincoln who obviously figured it out and turned to the Ideal standard.