Irrepressible desire

The family treated me to my annual Valentine’s/birthday dinner at Boscos last night, and I predictably ordered and enjoyed my customary pair of craft beers (Poor Richard’s Ale and a London Porter this time) chasing (as nearly always) the goat cheese tamale.

boscos-loyalty-cardsmBut where’s my “special birthday gift,” Boscos? It says right here on my “Beer Police” card that I’m entitled, and you did give me a mug last year. “Nobody’s ever asked about that,” said our server. “The manager would know,” said the greeter. No big deal, said I. But I left feeling like crotchety old Spencer Tracy in the film that had such an impact on me back when I was about ten, irritated at the ice cream stand attendant because she didn’t have his favorite Pistachio. Why can’t the world be as predictable as me?!

Well… that’s not a good POV for a pragmatist. We’re supposed to be firm yet flexible, non-ideological, committed to constant and constructive change.

And that’s just what I need to reflect on this morning, to begin preparing to participate in the American philosophy conference in less than three weeks. I’m supposed to have something to say about “old and new dawnings,” and about how old honest Abe was or was not a good pragmatist when confronting his own unpredictable battles.

So, the family took me home and presented me with a much better gift than Boscos ever did or would: the companion book (purchased at Parnassus, no less) to the acclaimed Spielberg biopic that should soon be reaping big Hollywood rewards. The back cover image represents Lincoln the nurturing Dad, rocking and reading to his little boy. The accompanying quote perfectly conveys Lincoln’s instinctive melioristic pragmatism:

I have an irrepressible desire to live till I can be assured that the world is a little better for my having lived in it.”

That’s an attitude worth celebrating, and emulating. Happy Presidents’ Day.

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