Choosing my new icon

According to Mirriam-Webster, there are several definitions of the word “icon.” I bring this up because WordPress gave me the opportunity to change the icon associated with this blog yesterday, when I decided to change the theme for the first time in several years. I don’t know what the theme was called. or what the new theme is called either, but inertia had definitely set in with the blog for quite a while.

The end of the Trump presidency feels like the start of something new, and hopefully something much better than what we’ve seen since 2016. Such was the thinking as I listened to an old Santana CD yesterday, when the song “Primavera” came on. The lyrics are written in Spanish, but several years of taking it in high school and college afforded me the opportunity to hear them and make sense of them. Anything further than this would overtax my abilities, but I was grateful for what I have, as always.

The gist of the song is that it’s Springtime (that’s what “Primavera” means in English) and seeds and sunshine are now bringing life to places where it did not exist before. The black earth is turning green, and in the mountains and the desert there will now be a beautiful garden. The words that made this most clear are “una nueva era,” or a new era or epoch. And I hope that’s where we find ourselves at today.

Over the past nine years and some months that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve tried to set free some of the thoughts and images and stories that have always been inside of me, but didn’t have anyplace to be expressed. The natural result is that some themes kept coming up, over and over again. I’m always happy to break new ground when the opportunity presents itself, but an examination of just a few posts here are enough to get a sense of what topics interest me the most: baseball, Chicago, rock and roll, news, the U.S.A. and, above all else, Abraham Lincoln.

I freely admit that Lincoln has had an outsized influence on the topics I have explored here. Yes, Lincoln is my middle name and I did spend the formative years in the city that he called home for most of his adult life. But the events of the past two months are enough to show me that Lincoln’s words and actions can inform all of our lives, in the 21st century America we are all living through.

Time and again we have been told of “our better angels” which Lincoln spoke of in his first inaugural address. And President Biden’s inaugural address of a few days ago referenced the signing of the Emancipation Praclamation and his words that “his whole soul was in it.” As Donald Trump will be impeached in a few days for the second time, I suspect the words and deeds of Lincoln will be invoked in this process, as well.

In the weekly poetry group that I’ve been involved with since the pandemic shutdown began, I’ve shared poems both by and about Lincoln with the others. Lincoln appreciated poetry in a way that not too many others have, and this probably has helped bring me to something that I’ve avoided for most of my life.

The first flash of inspiration that caused me to write down a thought and launch this blog involved baseball and childhood nostalgia and my fondness for searching for objects at garage sales. And each of those subjects has been explored in depth in earlier posts on this site, too. But time and again, my writing here has returned to Abraham Lincoln and the ways that his life has shaped or guided my own.

The picture above was taken a number of years ago, either by my sister or one of my two brothers, outside of Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield. The common belief is that rubbing Lincoln’s nose, as I’m doing in the picture, is supposed to bring good luck. It’s a strange belief to have, given that Lincoln was assassinated in a public place in his moment of greatest triumph. But then the rise of someone from extreme poverty to the highest elected office in the nation–and also in its hour of greatest need–required a whole lot of good fortune, didn’t it?

I’ve spent many an hour trying to describe this over the past nine years, and I can’t imagine how that would change over whatever time I have left writing this blog. So choosing one image to represent the spirit of this most personal undertaking wasn’t very difficult, at all. I suppose I could do without the chubby face that it presents, but I won’t let that override the overall meaning, either.

Am I searching for luck by rubbing Lincoln’s nose? I suppose so, because luck can be all that separates us from catastrophe or good fortune. Sister Luck has screamed out my name many times through the years, and I’m hopeful this will continue in the years ahead.

But in a larger sense (a phrase of Lincoln’s that I have used on several occasions), I’m more interested in remembering the lesson that honesty, integrity, and humility can carry a person to places where they might not otherwise have expected to go. Or, as Lincoln said in early 1860 when he was gearing up for his presidential run, his belief that “right makes might.” I could surely do a lot worse than aiming at that target, whenever I have a moment to gather a few thoughts together and then share them online.

So whenver a page from this blog is opened up in a window, there’s a very tiny, and almost impercepible, image appearing to the left of the text associated with that page (the title of the actual post, I think it is). That’s me and Lincoln, looking back at anyone who cares to see us. And it’s a reminder that well-intentioned deeds will always matter, and that words can help to understand and influence what those deeds are. If that’s all that comes out of this exercise, which could soon reach to a decade and more in duration, then it will be more than enough for me.

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