February 01, 2010
"Ocian In View. O! The Joy."
I grew up on part of the Lewis & Clark Trail. In fact, most everywhere in the northwest bears a constant reminder of their influence. Cities, national forests, mountain passes, birds and more take their names from these famous explorers.
I am currently reading The Journals of Lewis and Clark. To say I am fascinated by them would be an understatement. Although Clark has far more entries and is infinitely more entertaining to read (for instance, he spells the word "Sioux" 27 different ways throughout his writing), Lewis is more introspective and poetic in his writing. A couple of his entries contained passages poignant enough as to be the subject of this week's blog.
As Lewis first saw the Rocky Mountains from afar, he was amazed by their beauty. At the same time, he knew they would probably be the source of much hardship on his party, considering they needed to find a way through them to ultimately reach the Pacific. As he deliberated his passage through these mountains, he wrote "...as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled to believe differently."
As I read about political infighting and ineptitude, and budget shortfalls that will never be paid back, I can't begin to tell you how affected I was by Lewis's statement above. I think we all need to be optimistic with regard to our country's future, regardless of the mountains currently in our way.
Later that summer, Lewis wrote of his birthday as follows (unedited from the journal):
"This day I competed my thirty first year. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended.
I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in the future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavor to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me... in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself"
After reading this, I thought about all the wasted hours of my life, mostly from watching mindless television. What could I have done with all that time for the betterment of myself, my family, and/or my community? More importantly, what will I do with that time now that I've pledged to take it back?
The story of Lewis and Clark is an incredible one. Even after they found their way to the Pacific, they still had to find their way back from whence they came. They had several encounters that could have led to the failure of their expedition, yet they endured with undaunted courage and completed their mission.
As we all struggle daily with the mountains in our paths, Lewis gave us yet another word of encouragement, after suffering through a hellish day of travel himself:
"I now laid myself down on some willow boughs to a comfortable nights rest, and felt indeed as if I was fully repaid for the toil and pain of the day, so much will a good shelter, a dry bed, and comfortable supper revive the sperits of the waryed, wet and hungry traveler."
Make it a great week.
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