"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."

Whenever I'm looking for some inspiration I gravitate back to Ralph Waldo Emerson and his essay 'Self Reliance'. I was reminded of this essay last night while having a few pints with a friend. We were talking about music and art and how sometimes something echoes so clearly in our minds like it's innate knowledge. The story told is of the composition of the song Yesterday and how after writing it, Paul McCartney needed confirmation that he hadn't written something he'd heard before. There was such truth in it's simplicity that he felt it couldn't have been original. The story made me think of Emerson and his belief that there are universal truths and if you can trust yourself then you can find your way to them. "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

Is this a simplistic ideal or does it ring of truth? Outside of culture, race, religion and politics, do we share these inner truths? And what constitutes 'truth'? Maybe it's just something sewn into our genes and it echoes through generations.

What I like about Emerson is that he inspires courage in the face of self doubt. Our fear is so often tied to failure that we fall short of our potential and are far too timid in our careers and relationships. And I suppose it's a little ironic that I say that Emerson inpsires me as the point he's making is that I should be inspiring myself! Oh well.


JCasual said...

Don't forget his buddy HD. A little more crusty, but equally as valuable companion for our collective and individual travels. This on'es on my desk.

"I have learned that if one adavances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in comman hours." Thoreau

Mark said...

I suppose it's the idea that luck is something you make more often than it's blind. If you point yourself in the direction you want some people will move aside to let you go by, while others will give you a helping hand.

No need mentioning those who try to keep you down...