Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A One-Term Senator

What gave Lincoln his enormous strength in relation to others was that he had learned early in life to accept himself. He knew that he was ugly, ungainly, awkward in society, untaught except by himself, and as a Congressman for one term unsuccessful. The great point was that he did not resent these deficiencies; he neither tried to cover them up nor referred to them continually from embarrassment. They were part of him and (as I have said) he accepted all of himself as inevitable, as a fact of nature. By this act of will, his mind and soul grew freely to their full stature, and he was able to attend to the task in hand with none of the crippling insecurity of the self-made man.

— Jacques Barzun, Lincoln's Philosophic Vision, 1982, 19.

Accept, grow, attend to the task in hand.

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