March 26, 2013

Stuck with ourselves

The theme at Goat Rope lately is the work of 19th century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. At the moment, the focus is on his signature essay Self Reliance, which is a kind of spiritual declaration of independence.

Today I want to highlight one passage of the essay that reminded me of a tough time when I was in high school. My situation at the time seemed untenable, but somehow I knew deep down that it was better to be miserable as myself than happy as someone else. Here's how Emerson put it:

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried...God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.

His advice seems to be this: become yourselves. No wonder Nietzsche loved him.

WAY COOL. The Roman Catholic bishop of WV urged Gov. Tomblin to expand Medicaid coverage to low wage working people.

SOCIAL ANIMALS are we. If we want to live long, anyway.

NOTE: busy days and travel ahead so posts may be irregular.


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