People say be present, to live in the moment.
Thanks, but I want to live in the future.
In the moment, I want the second half of that pastrami sandwich.
Two hours into the future, with my belly feeling beyond full, I can’t figure out what the hell I was thinking.
Snow pounding. Visibility nil.
Windshield is as far as I can see.
I’ve even slid off off the road a time or two.
But as the hours (and days) pass,
I slowly make progress.
As it is in snow, so it is in life.
The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
The smack and tang of elemental things:
The rectitude and patience of the cliff;
The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves.
— Edwin Markham, Lincoln, Man of the People
I watched the Bill Moyer’s special last night on Lincoln’s Legend and Legacy. Since moving to North Carolina a year and a half ago, I have become a student of the Civil War. The passion with which both sides fought and Lincoln’s incredible role in holding the Union together ignites in me a deep fascination for my adopted country.
The excerpt above is but a few lines from a rich and delightful poem by Edwin Markham. The second verse alone brings tears to my eyes and is worth committing to memory. Steel away a few quiet moments today and indulge yourself in a full reading of Markham’s Lincoln, Man of the People.
If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill,
Be a shrub in the valley – but be
The best little shrub by the side of the hill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush, be a bit of grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can’t all be captains, some have to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here;
There’s work to be done, and we all have to do
Our part in the way that’s sincere.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail,
Be the best of whatever you are.
— Douglas Mallock