Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson

After many days of pondering R.W.E's essay Self-Reliance, I began to think beyond what he says to look at ways I am self reliant. The challenge of this is pinning down exactly what Emerson defines as self-reliance. I've boiled it down to two points.
1. Avoiding conformity. "Insist on yourself; never imitate."
2. Following your own inclinations

I've rephrased these to say that Emerson is interested in a transcendent independence from the mainstream, which one can reach by trusting yourself and your abilities to lead to you a meaningful and progress existence.
These ideas have resonated with me for many days, especially as I consider what my life will be like without school. I feel that no matter what ambitions or passions I pursue, I will always be better off when I keep these things in mind. I guess that is because they purport a genuine life - and that is a life I believe is worth living.

Emerson recognizes that society loses interest in individuals who are not successful within its rigid definition. But of course, in opting for something that beings societal acceptance, one also choose conformity. What I found interesting about this idea is that Emerson supports the individual who chooses to do rather than to study, simply because that person is getting their hands dirty and achieving. "For he does not postpone his life, but lives already." After reading that, I located what irks me about this subject, I have 'to do.' It is very exciting. What I will do exactly is unknown, but I feel that so long as I move towards my true passions I will do something worthwhile.

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