The Thought for the Day – Fred Kaplan

Niagara will witness the passing of the human species…Such ceaselessness had its parallel in his own life…the inner demand to make something of himself…to swim upstream against formidable obstacles.  Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer


Abraham Lincoln is one of the most written about figures in human history. There are few aspects of his life that have not been written about many times over, either in articles or books, in scholarly works or books written for a large audience. Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, however, is the only book we’ve read on the subject on his development as a writer. It’s an important part of Lincoln’s life because Lincoln had little formal education and was virtually completely self-educated.

Lincoln was a voracious reader. One, it was in his nature and he was determined to learn as much as he could merely on general principles. It was more than that, however. Lincoln – like others throughout history –  had an idea that he was meant to do something in this world and he knew the only way he would be able to claim the place the fates had reserved for him would be to have a mind that was as persistent and developed as he could make it. Lincoln did his work well. Like few others, Lincoln developed a facility for being able to put complex ideas and issues in terms that were difficult for anyone to misunderstand.

…the inner demand to make something of himself.

Lincoln is a great example of someone who lived life from the inside out. Instead of marking time reacting to outside forces, Lincoln answered to his inner self and Lincoln lived the life he was meant to live. Like he probably suspected he would, Lincoln came to power with our country at crossroads. Now, whether you regard Lincoln as a savior or a mere despot, you cannot argue that for better or worse Lincoln decided to save the Union and he did whatever he thought necessary to do that. When his work was done, the fates took him away.

…to swim upstream against formidable obstacles.

Lincoln was born poor. His family moved around the Midwest on a regular basis and it would have been easy for Lincoln to throw up his hands and live the same hardscrabble life his father, mother and stepmother lived. He refused to, though. Lincoln had the courage to develop the wisdom to know the life he was meant to live, the courage to go and live it and the patience to see it through. literally, to the end.

These three traits aren’t reserved for those who live down the ages; these are three traits each of us can have, too. If we are willing to exhibit them, the life we were meant to live is there for the taking.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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