meeting carl sandburg in africa

I’ve discovered Carl Sandburg on a day where I contemplate the many things I’ve learned here in Africa.

“A father sees a son nearing manhood.

What shall he tell that son?

Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.

And this might stand him for the storms

and serve him for humdrum and monotony and guide him amid sudden betrayals

and tighten him for slack moments.

Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.

And this too might serve him.

Brutes have been gentled where lashes have failed.

The growth of a frail flower in a path up has sometimes shattered and split a rock.

A tough will counts. So does desire.

So does a rich soft wanting.

Without rich wanting nothing arrives.

Tell him too much money has killed men and

left them dead years before burial:

the quest of treasure beyond a few easy needs

has twisted good enough men

sometimes into dry thwarted worms.

Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.

Tell him to be a fool every so often

and to have no shame over having been a fool

yet learning something out of every folly

hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies

thus arriving at intimate understanding of a world numbering many fools.

Tell him to be alone often and get at himself

and above all tell himself no lies about himself

whatever the white lies and protective fronts he may use amongst other people.

Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong

and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.

Tell him to be different from other people

if it comes natural and easy being different.

Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.

Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.

Then he may understand Shakespeare and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,

Michael Faraday and free imaginations

bringing changes into a world resenting change.

He will be lonely enough to have time for the work he knows as his own”.


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