It seems the first few months of the new year are scatter shot with clusters of micro holidays specifically designed to wean us off the frenetic pace of the Christmas season. It’s OK I guess, although I believe many of these second-tier calendar dates are specifically created by someone with a savage passion to sell greeting cards.
This particular weekend is Presidents Day, in which we celebrate the presidents…Washington and Lincoln specifically. This date follows close behind Valentine’s Day, which celebrates valentines specifically.
Personally, I prefer honoring the presidents to honoring Cupid. Especially Lincoln. He was a man of profound wisdom, a commodity seemingly in short supply these days. He truly was honor’s voice. His Gettysburg Address, all 272 words, has the power to transform, no matter how many times one hears it. One is always well advised to take counsel from the wise.
Valentine’s Day is something I wrestle with each year. I appreciate the sentiment, but I find it hard to legislate romance. It seems that should be part of the daily routine…every day, like brushing your teeth or making your bed. Affection should always be expressed.
However, this past Valentine’s Day was actually one of my favorites. No, I did not get chocolate or roses. That would have driven me to spasms of bellicose oaths worthy of a Visigoth warrior. (Although I have been known to accept any gift with diamonds. Hey, we all have our standards.)
Tuesday, I brought Dennis home from the hospital. He had resided in room 4512 for over a week as he was treated for an abscess on his liver that was causing all kinds of havoc on his body. Actually, his body withstood the assault admirably, although, it did leave him slightly diminished. His washboard abs look a little like balsa wood, and his muscle memory has progressed from dementia to full-blown amnesia. But that can be resolved, all in good time. It does not worry me. It is sometimes a good thing not to have total recall.
I was so happy to have him in the house once again, I couldn’t restrain myself. At the top of my lungs I began singing, “I-eeeeeee-eye-eeeeeee-eye will always love you-ooooh-hooooo-ooooh-hooooooo.” It gave me chills. Dennis, however, stopped me mid hooo-hooo, muttering something about Alfalfa on steroids, and suggested that the better part of romance (and wisdom) is silence. He suggested I consider becoming the “Valentine whisperer.”
I thought about if. I refused to be offended, although I’m not sure why. We have toilet paper embossed with hearts, and as I placed a new roll on the dispenser, I whispered, “From my heart to your derrier.” That sufficed for the occasion. It brought a tear to my eye.
Sometimes I think life is a leavening agent. Shakespeare suffused his plays with Fate. Whatever the engine that drives the events in our lives, we always have need for wisdom to guide us in negotiating the potholes on the highway of life. Wisdom diffuses despair.
It is good to seek the guidance from voices of the past, silent mentors whose words echo to instruct and reassure. I have several mentors that serve as constant reference points. They are like my North Star.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
AESCHYLUS: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
GALILEO: “The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do.”
OLYMPIC CREED: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
WINNIE-THE-POOH: “Those who are clever, who have Brain, never understand anything.”
MOM: “Why make the bed? I’m just going to climb in again.”
These are a few of my silent mentors.
So as Dennis mends and recovers from the latest ordeal, I will remember to pray, that wisdom is hard won, but comes even against our will, that our grapes will ripen eventually if we flood them with sunshine, that we will not only fight well, but triumph, that understanding eclipses IQ, and that making the bed is highly over-rated.
Maybe wisdom really is the highest form of romance after all. Until someone writes a song to convey that sentiment, I will have to write love letters on our toilet paper.