So Jerod Morris, the guy behind Primility, who happens to moonlight as the Director of Content for Copyblogger Media, emailed the latest Primility Blog Post to my email.
This, too, shall pass
“This, too, shall pass” is a quote imbued with primility.
That it is associated with Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest single examples of primility I’ve yet to find in my research, is all too appropriate.
The saying reminds us to keep our pride in check, because even the best of times — no matter how much our efforts may have contributed to them — shall at some point pass.
But it also reminds us to not be overwhelmed with humility, to the point of meekness, because even the worst of times — no matter how much our failures may have contributed to them — shall also at some point pass.
Saturday morning, thanks to a link contained in Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter, I learned the history of Lincoln’s association with this short, stout phrase.
It’s far more compelling than I had anticipated …
Why Lincoln’s Milwaukee speech lives on
We often attribute the phrase “This, too, shall pass” to Lincoln as if it started with him. It turns out he simply popularized the phrase and brought it into a modern context.
Lincoln’s association with the phrase makes sense, given what we know of his constant bouts with depression and self-doubt, as well as the many political failures he endured before the monumental achievements of his presidency that catapulted him to the esteem he’s held in today.
But where did said association begin? In September of 1859, roughly 17 months before he took office as the 16th president of the United States.
Lincoln addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society of Milwaukee, kicking off its agricultural fair. In an insightful address, which you can read in full here, Lincoln addresses issues of improving crop production per acre, as well as the tenuous intersection of capital, labor, and education.
He comes to the conclusion that farming holds the greatest potential for capital, labor, and education to work in harmony, the fruits of which would be seen in enduring liberty for all … for “No community whose every member possesses this art, can ever be the victim of oppression of any of its forms.”
But Lincoln is ever the realist. He realizes that in farming, as in so many endeavors, there are winners and losers, successes and failures, with individuals potentially swapping groups from year to year.
Which sets the stage for his concluding comments, and advice:
“And by the successful, and unsuccessful, let it be remembered, that while occasions like the present, bring their sober and durable benefits, the exultations and mortifications of them are but temporary; that the victor shall soon be the vanquished, if he relax in his exertion; and that the vanquished this year, may be victor the next, in spite of all competition.
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet, let us hope, it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us, and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.”
Lincoln is explaining a tenet of primility in the first paragraph: that too much pride in one’s immediate success can quickly lead to future failure; but, on the flip side, that failure need not lead to meekness, for success may be right around the corner if enough pride to keep moving forward is maintained.
The second paragraph, of course, is where Lincoln delivers the famous words: “And this, too, shall pass away” … an approximation of the famous axiom.
What I find interesting is that immediately after sharing the story, and the quote, Lincoln seeks to discredit it, saying “And yet, let us hope, it is not quite true.” He is referring to prosperity — because why should we want that to pass? This is Lincoln saying, essentially, “Let the good times roll.” Indeed. Who wouldn’t want that?
But we know that even the best of the times are just temporary … followed by a balancing of the ledger, even if only based on perception because we get used to prosperity and take it for granted.
Thus, the enduring, universal brilliance and applicability of “This, too, shall pass.”
We are here, in this moment, whatever it is. And we should experience it fully. But it shall pass … and then we are on to the next moment, which we will make of what we will — a function of how balanced our pride and our humility prove to be.
To conclude this week’s newsletter, I just want to say thank you to everyone who provided their kind words and warm wishes this week after I posted about my current bout with a herniated disc in my back.
(And I’d be a damn ungrateful fool if I didn’t make special mention of Heather and thank her for all her help over the past week. She’s been wonderful.)
While it hasn’t been the most pleasant of weeks — as those of you who have been similarly afflicted know quite well — the adage at the heart of this newsletter is already proving true: it, too, shall pass.
I’m happy to report that I already feel much, much better today, just a handful of days later. The worst of the pain is gone, and my limp is far less pronounced. Rehab and stretching shall soon commence, followed as soon thereafter as possible by a return to the yoga mat.
No, I don’t plan to fall asleep on this much-appreciated wake-up call. 🙂
What about you?
Have you received any recent wake-up calls? Is there anything — positive or negative — that you are preparing yourself for the passing of?
I’d love to hear from you, on these or any other subjects. Just hit reply and your message will go right to me.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
So yes, dude knows what he is doing. So much so, I replied:
The passing I am painfully happy to see end is my 8+ year run of failures chasing my white whale. Your mentioning President Lincoln battling Depression really resonated with me. I may have heard the same at another point but my 8 years of chasing a solution (aka my white whale) included my ongoing battle with Depression and ADHD.
But it was work ethic and attitude that helped me see the passing of 8+ years of my focused frustration and failure.
After 8 years of soaking in everything I could from Copyblogger, Teaching Sells (A TON from here, SUPER-AWESOME), the speakers at Blueglass X, Seth Godin’s books, the IMSP and then the NewRainMaker, Authority forums (some, not a ton from there so far, info overload for me there) and helping market CobaltApps’ products for 18months, working with business owners to get online, hosting and website’s built and managed, researching, from a Strategic Marketing perspective the WordPress and specifically the cottage industry(s) spawned from the Genesis Framework and Copyblogger Media’s assets, I finally harpooned my white whale.
This weekend all the years of literally working 24/7 to solve this problem I was set on through conversations with my Grandfather while serving as primary caregiver over the last 8 months or so of his life, was made worth it.
I know how to dig out of the $100K+ debt my chase has led me to in this moment. In a week or month at most, money will not be important to me. When $3 to go to Burger King is possible but only though planning and scrounging, then money is playing to large a role. At least in my humble view. When I feel bad looking at my pets because I gotta figure out how to pay for the vet visits they are long overdue, that means money is too important to my environment.
This, too, shall pass.
The darkest part of night comes just before the dawn (not verbatim lol, but the sentiment is similar in my view) I think I used that quote in both of my Eulogies for my Gramps and then Grandma.
Finally. Likely TMI but you said to reply. 🙂
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