People often ask me, “why don’t you write more?” They mean no harm, of course, most are actually phrasing it in a complimentary way. To a writer, it’s vaguely like asking a pregnant woman how far along she is; and you better damn well know she’s pregnant in the first place. Every writer is different. Journalists write on a frenetic scale, pushed by deadlines and the need for splashy headlines in perpetuity. Op-Ed types languish around the weekly ‘bleed and leads’ until some self-righteous impulse kicks in to inform the masses what it all really means.
For some of us, we write for the same reason a climber takes on a mountain: because it’s there. Hell, I’ve always thought a moment unwritten is a moment unmemorialized for all time. That begs a certain urgency to capture an event, a place, a moment, and put it down on paper like a placeholder. Besides, if history is written by the victors, then I better damn well do it, because the media is trying erase the present before it can even become the past. The story of Donald J. Trump and his chaotic journey to the White House has captured the imagination of the nation and the world. But the story, the real story, is just beginning.
In my prior life as a legislative staffer, I worked for an aging chairman who had spent about 30 years in the PA General Assembly. With elections every two years, most of his colleagues were becoming younger and younger because of the grind. He told me often that it was the challenge that kept him going. To him, each election was a climb up a familiar and formidable mountain. I would marvel that he could take such satisfaction from the Sisyphean task of that laborious climb to the peak, only to enjoy the all too fleeting moment at the top. But see, to him, it was all about the climb.
It’s not hard to earn such wisdom in the cyclical world of holding a legislative office. It’s only when you are faced with the limitations of a term-limited executive office, that you truly appreciate the impermanence of your mission. Most presidents, reflecting on their time in the White House, marvel at how it simultaneously feels like forever and like the blink of an eye. President Trump can’t possibly appreciate just how true that is, not yet. I hope and I pray that this driven and passionate man can slow down the game long enough to see just how fast it’s played. For him, as our president, and for us as his base of support, we need to relish this climb. The peak we reached on November 8th, is now a mirage; both a promise and a challenge on the 2020 horizon. For now, though, we climb.
It will require patience and a sound strategy. I harbor no illusions of a swift and painless ascent. The dangers are always there, like looking too far ahead, or trying to gain too much ground too quickly. Mistakes will be made and the lessons will be learned. And so we’ll climb, trying to retain the wisdom of my late boss as we go: it’s all about the climb.