NaBloPoMo 18/19: Ideals
October and November used to be my favorite months. Summer was too much pressure to have fun, to be made the most of, to be active. I love autumn, when the air is crisp, the leaves are bright and crunchy against steely grey days and starry nights. Autumn is thoughtful, warm, if a tad melancholy, but with a quiet softness I find myself curling up in. I love the smells of pumpkins and spices and warm, crackling fires. Being an October birthday and loving school as much as I did, I always looked forward to the fall.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2009, it ironically came during my most and least favorite time of the year. Classes were gearing up (we start in mid-August for some reason) but it was still hot. It’s a liminal period of lingering heat and anticipation for fall. As I moved through surgery in September towards October, I saw my birthday up ahead and looked forward to the change. But I didn’t anticipate the pink. Oh, holy crap the pink! The survivor celebrations! The feminine cancer! I was special because I got the right kind of (potentially) fatal illness. But I didn’t feel special. I felt frightened, hurt and sick. I’ve been fighting to get October back ever since.
November, at least during major election years, is so contentious in the run-up that by the time voting is over and I try to settle into looking forward to the dying embers of autumn; those mournful, melancholy days of bare trees and icy winds where I imagine Poe writing his prose of icy tombs, and blasted landscapes. Instead of finding this chilling, I see it as a space for thoughtfulness, for memory, akin to Yom Kippur in reflection instead of atonement. Sadness and reverie has a special beauty, and today, after the division, acrimony and rancor of the past election, it is particularly fitting to remember the words of a complex, melancholic man, whose spirit bowed beneath the sacrifice of love and flesh and life for an ideal.
On this date in 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. — at Gettysburg National Military Park.