Calvin Who? Trust me; I paid attention in middle school and in high school, as well. Memorized all the Presidents’ names and the order in which they served. Freely admit I heard or read nothing that set apart Calvin Cooledge aside from a notion wa-a-a-y in the back of my head that he was an extremely quiet person. In the press, he earned the sobriquet, ‘Silent Cal.’ Imagine my surprise to learn this came from no less a person than our 30th US President, Calvin Cooledge:
- Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Or, as Woody Allen said, more succinctly:
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Several months, now, I’ve been in a long dry spell — kept up only with things that demanded it: grading student work, laundry, refill the larder — tasks which, when neglected, cause me deep financial and/or physical inconvenience. Can you say: Unemployed w/o insurance — Stinky, in extremis — and hungry?
Dunno where this is going, but when Tom Selleck (of all people) rolled out that Cooledge quote in his recent Tavis Smiley interview, I was gob-smacked. It is nothing I haven’t heard since I was a pup — nothing I haven’t said to at least a thousand of my students — nothing new, at all.
Fact is, I haven’t written much since I realized I can never compose poetry that is as moving and brilliant as W.S. Merwyn; what I do write, I don’t publish out of fear of rejection. This results in: why write? The answer to that is, I write because I have to — that thing that ferments, pushes me, wants to express [you know what I mean if you are a writer] will not allow me to “not write.”
My choice then is to show up, for my own life. Think I’ll take Woody’s advice.
2011-05-23 » Kate