Last night, like many of my fellow Americans, I watched and listened as our president bid us a formal goodbye. His speech, like his presidency, was full of hope and notions of the hard work ahead. Amidst a circus of strange tweets and trendings happening elsewhere online with regard to the next guy in line for his job, Barack Obama was graciously reminding us to roll up our sleeves and get involved.
I awoke this morning to read an excerpt of a poem, posted by a lovely instagram feed which shares a poem and an image each day and I feel it captures the end of this amazing man’s presidential legacy perfectly.
A Psalm of Life (excerpt)
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and wait.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We must beware in the coming weeks, months and years, not to fall prey to the circus that is this incoming administration and Republican led Congress. All of the hoopla the president-elect stirs up with his childlike online ranting, is merely part of the smoke and mirrors behind which changes are already being called for, chipping away at the very foundations of the social safety net upon which our most vulnerable citizens rely. We must be vigilant about keeping our eyes open. About getting involved not just nationally, but locally as well.
Thank you, President Obama, for your class, your nerve, your kindness and open-mindedness. Thank you for your service to this country.
ps. I’ve been listening to a lot of Hamilton lately, steeping myself in the early days of our country’s story as a palate cleanser of sorts to what’s happening now. Below is President Washington stepping down after two terms as president, creating a pattern of a peaceful transfer of power to the next president.