Yesterday was Donald Trump’s last day in office as the President of the United States of America.
Some people are sad. Others are ecstatic.
I know the latter group was mortified when Trump was sworn in four years ago. They were pretty sure the world was going to end. They thought there was no way they could make it for four whole years. Their entire life was ruined. They couldn’t sleep. They couldn’t eat. They just wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it for four years.
But guess what? Trump left yesterday. He’s gone, at least as the Commander in Chief. It’s over. Done with.
Why? Because, this too shall pass.
This too shall pass. Just four simple words, but among the four most powerful words, when strung together, in the English language. Everything passes, whether that everything is something good or something bad. The future gives us do-overs and new beginnings. Thank goodness for that. We just have to be patient and wait.
Don’t like Joe Biden? Just wait four years. His presidency, at least his first four years, shall pass. Yes, he might get re-elected, but then again, he might not. Don’t like the two teams that will end up in this year’s Super Bowl? Don’t like fossil fuels? Don’t like CD interest rates? Don’t like the current cast on The Bachelor?
Just wait. Be patient. Change will come.
I saw a YouTube video recently where an old man wisely said, “The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks.” How true. Wait a few weeks and your hair will grow back and you can try a different barber. And when you do, you’ll wonder why you threw such a hissy fit the first time.
On a national scale, think about all the horrible things that have happened in the past, where during the middle of them we thought there was no end in site. The Vietnam War. The Watts Riots. Son of Sam. AIDS. The Twin Towers. Hurricane Katrina.
And on a personal scale, think of all the stressful things that impacted you and your family and friends and which you thought would never end. Puberty. Final exams. Car accidents. Hangovers. Bankruptcy. Divorces.
Wikipedia says the phrase this too shall pass is a Persian adage that has been translated and used in many languages over the years. Ironically, since this article opened talking about a President, the phrase became best known in America after Abraham Lincoln used it in a speech he gave before he was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States.
Variations of the phrase show up in the bible in several different spots, as well as in some other famous speeches and literature. The most common variation—all things shall pass—is, to me, not personal enough. All things is too broad and all-encompassing, but when someone says this too shall pass, they are pretty much referring to something that is impacting them personally right at that moment.
There is certainly more emphasis placed on the I can’t wait until this shit is over aspect of the phrase since we are more focused on wanting bad things to end than we are on wanting good things to last longer. But the this too shall pass phrase does not play favorites. Bad things pass and, unfortunately, so do good things. How often do we wish we had paid more attention to and enjoyed more of a good thing that was happening in our life? A truly tasty meal with friends. A wonderful vacation with a loved one. An incredible work accomplishment. A thrilling book or movie. Holding your first newborn. Those great things will also pass.
If you were a peasant in Europe or Asia in the mid-1300s you had to weather four years of the Black Plague that killed 25 million people. My guess is you would not have cared one iota who won the emperor election back then. All you would have cared about was not getting bacterium Yersinia pestis, also known as the bubonic plague, because the most common symptom was pus and blood oozing from the lymph nodes in your groin, neck and armpits. Four years of dodging the oozing-pus-and-blood-before-dying bullet makes four years of Trump look like a walk in the park.
History is full of people chanting this too shall pass while living through horrific conditions for multiple years. The Irish Potato Famine lasted four years from 1845 to 1849 and killed one million people. The Cambodian Genocide lasted four years from 1975 to 1979 with two million Cambodians executed by their own countrymen. I’m not trying to be a downer, but sometimes this too shall pass references a migraine and sometimes it references something much more painful.
Today, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As of this date, there have been more than two million deaths worldwide. There are things we don’t know, like how long the pandemic will last and how many more people will die.
What we do know is this.
Eventually, thankfully, this too shall pass.