A Poem About the Quotidian, Drugs, and Great People

I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great

and, to be perfectly honest, it bums me out.
So many great ones! —libidinal heroes,
idealists, warrior-chieftains, revolutionaries,
fabulists of all sorts, even the great Irish pig farmers
and Armenian raisin growers —and who,
I ask myself, am I by comparison? Calmed
by Valium, urged on by Viagra, uplifted
by Prozac, I go about my daily rounds,
a quotidian member of the quotidian hierarchy,
a Perseus with neither a war nor a best friend,
and sink to the depths of despair
on the broken wings of my own mundanity.

If only some god had given me greatness,
I surely would have made something of it—
perhaps a loftier, more humble poem than this,
or some übermenschliche gesture that would reveal
my superiority to the ordinary beings and things
of this world. But here I am now, one of
the earth’s mere Sancho Panzas, leading
those heroic others through the world on their
magnificent horses, merely turning the page, dreaming
my own small deeds into their magnificent arms.

“I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great” by Michael Blumenthal, from No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012. © Etruscan Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. 

via I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great by Michael Blumenthal | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

This quote brings to mind the saying, “Even Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Theresa had only twenty-four hours for each of their days.” You can be great! It is within the realm of possibility for you. That’s always an encouraging thing to remember.

In the first stanza, he names all of the drugs that pull him through his life. I feel that way about only one thing: caffeine. Coffee, mostly. How do humans function magnificently without it? I think that another encouraging saying might be something like, “Even Theodore Roosevelt and Margaret Atwood were addicted to coffee.”

We can all make a change in the world, and it’s ok if we need coffee to do it.


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October 21, 2014 · 1:16 pm

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