We are Flag & Wire. We are a whole mess of people. But mostly we are Nick, Kim, Matthew, Rachel & Armen. And it’s my fingers—Nick’s fingers—that write these words right now. I’m going to tell you about our name—Flag & Wire.
Kim & I have these friends, Kevin and Sarah. Years ago when I was single, I remember Kevin encouraging me at a low point in my life with a little piece of a poem. I don’t even remember what I was “low” about—probably nonsensical teen/young-adult angst.
He recited thusly:
Life’s good things all come from hard pounding │ the butter’s whipped from cream │ success is the bride of endeavor │ and luck but a lazy man’s dream
That stuck with me forever, probably in part because it was modge-podged onto a little piece of wood on the windowsill of Kevin and Sarah’s bathroom window. So every time I was up there and took a leak I read it again. But it was surely more than that, too.
“Life’s good things all come from hard pounding…” Is that true, do you think? I feel like for us it really has been. It’s easy when receiving a pounding to believe that all hope is lost; that your lot in life has been drawn and it’s to sit tight and continue receiving a pounding. But it’s our experience that almost everything worth having requires sacrifice, and our willingness to sacrifice our immediate interests in favor of something larger is what brings “good things”.
Success really is the bride of endeavor. And even though we all do get lucky sometimes, perpetually expecting luck is a lazy man’s dream.
Years later I set out to discover who wrote that poem, and it was tricky, but I did it! I finally found the poem in a copy of “The Labor Digest” from 1912. I’m not joking.
It was written by John Trotwood Moore, who was best known for having been the state archivist and librarian of Tennessee for the ten years preceding his death in 1929. I’m not joking
The last few lines of the poem read this way: “The time to succeed is when others │ discouraged, show traces of tire │ the battle is fought in the homestretch, │ and won ‘twixt the flag and the wire
The beginning and the ending. Horse races were started with a flag at that time, see, and the winner was judged at the end as they passed under a wire being watched by judges high above.
It’s where we get the phrase “down to the wire”. Don’t you think that’s neat?
Small business is a wild and wooly affair, friends. It’s fraught with perils and pitfalls around every bend. But I don’t know how to explain the joy we see. We’re exhausted from running this race. Just pooped. Every day. But we experience freedoms and joys that other people don’t get to experience, and we take it for granted.
We picked the name Flag & Wire for a bunch of reasons—some of which I’ll go into in my next post. But a lot of it was how resonant this poem and it’s ideas are for us. Of how it feels to be in this thing.