Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Pause For Reflection

This week, there was a memorial service for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, at which President Obama spoke.

There was a portion of the president's speech that caught my ear, and I wanted to share it with all of you, for it calls to the longing that I think we all feel, somewhere deep within, to strive to be more, to do better, and to find a way to make some impact on the rest of humanity.
Like the country he served, Richard contained complexities. So full of life, he was a man both confident in himself and curious about others, alive to the world around him with a character that is captured in the words of a Mathew Arnold poem that he admired. “But often, in the din of strife, there rises an unspeakable desire after the knowledge of the buried life; a thirst to spend our fire and restless force in tracking our true, original course; a longing to inquire into the mystery of this heart which beats so wild, so deep in us -- to know whence our lives come and where they go.”
I'd never read that particular poem, but here it is in it's entirety.  English professor Margaret Soltan had this to say about the poem, which I found spot on:
Arnold’s poem, titled “The Buried Life,” is about what’s under public life and global events, what lies beneath one’s public persona and activities; it’s about being very quiet and trying very hard to figure out who you, in particular, authentically are.
But I don't find it incongruous, as she seems to anyway, that Holbrooke should enjoy this as both a poem and an exercise in thought, while also being such an active participant in the world around him.  I think that sometimes you meet your true self at the forks in your road, much more often than in the smooth patches.

And Holbrooke was certainly never a man to shy away from those forks, now was he?

In any case, the poem itself is a lovely read.  And one well worth contemplating as we enter the snowiest patch of winter here in WV.

Where should life begin anew in the coming spring?  Are we headed out of the darkness and toward a more nurturing and fulfilling light that allows for growth and renewal?  Shouldn't we all take a little time to ask ourselves these questions and to correct our own life course where such correction is needed?

Heavy questions for a Saturday, but ones I am pondering nonetheless.

(Lovely photo via Kris Haamer.  Love how you can almost feel the tree reaching up, up, up to the beautiful sky.)


Anonymous said...

Can I clone your article to my blog? Thank you…

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Absolutely, so long as you give a link back to here. :)