Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb”
Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world:
When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
I was feeling bummed
Somebody opened my mailbox and took the mail I wanted to have picked up by the mailman. He/she stole checks I intended for the DMV and the tax collector. The thief took the check numbers and made electronic (EFT) purchases by typing in my account number online. Suddenly the money was missing from my checking account. I’m hoping my bank can get the money back.
Take back control
I had already been feeling irritable and Covid Cranky. Now I was angry. What to do? I confess, I had a little chocolate. And then some ice cream. I knew I had to gain control over what I could control (besides eating ice cream). I needed to get moving.
Take action and cheer up
I walked along the San Francisco Bay near my home, picked the last of the roses and veggies in my garden, took used books to Goodwill, made zucchini bread, talked to friends on the phone, then downloaded some e-books from the library.
Netflix to the rescue
Best of all, I found wonderful movies and shows on Netflix. If you’re feeling down, I recommend the following:
Fisherman’s Friend – A true feel-good story about 10 fishermen in Cornwall who were discovered by a recording executive who appreciated their singing of sea shanties. And it’s a love story. Enjoy the Cornish scenery as well as the songs (which, thanks to the executive, became best-sellers).
Move – Feel inspired by the dancers who are changing the art of movement around the world. This is a five-part documentary of the struggles and ultimate successes of brilliant dancers and choreographers. Part one focuses on taking the street dance arts of popping and jooking to the next level. The performances are startling and sensational.
The Queen’s Gambit – If you want a fun, thrilling, cerebral, binge-worthy show, don’t miss this mini-series. This is the story of orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during her quest to become the world’s greatest chess player while struggling with emotional issues and drug and alcohol dependency. I was hooked from the start.
My Octopus Teacher – This gorgeous nature documentary has been trending on must-see lists world-wide for a good reason. The filmmaker tells a joyful tale of what he learned from an octopus he befriended in the kelp forests of South Africa. It sounds unlikely until you see it.
Tales by Light – Here’s another must-see show if you have an interest in science, nature, photography, travel, and adventure. The series of documentaries feature the stories and work of 18 hugely talented and courageous photographers. You’re in for a treat.
Maybe it’s the inspiration or maybe it’s the distraction. I’m just grateful to have easy access to entertainment that makes me feel so much better. And, no, I don’t feel guilty about watching so much TV. In times like these, these shows help calm us and make us less Covid Cranky.
(Follow-up note – all’s well. My bank was great!)