June 6, 2005

Self-Reliance

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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 corm 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...

What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better that you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our won; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude...

Do your work and I shall know you. Do your work and you shall reinforce yourself...

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts evert thing you said today. "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood." Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood...

I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.

- from the essay Experience

Posted on June 6, 2005 9:29 PM
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Posted by: Ntlaletseng Motaung on June 30, 2005 2:37 PM
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