So, I'm getting to be on a first name basis with Mr. Emerson through my class at The Center for Spiritual Living in Ft. Lauderdale. And I can see why his concepts were so powerful especially in his day. The single most important essay he wrote was the one on Self Reliance. I created the cartoon strip above on self reliance to help drive home the point. You can click on the image to see it larger and legible. The situation described is a poignant one, how do you decide what is your genius and what is yourself making excuses for not doing something you don't want to do or maybe it's just a cheap excuse to buck authority?
Well, that's the million dollar self reliance question. I think maybe the acid test is in the results of your decisions and actions. If my inner voice tells me to do something and I follow it and in that following I am able to tap into a power greater than my own, then I know I am in the flow with my divine purpose.
Ralph's essay goes on to say, " Trust thyself." "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind." Still he doesn't give us a clue as to what that might look like and how we might tell the difference. He is a big one for non-conformity. He says, "Whoso would be a man (I assume this is true for women as well), must be a nonconformist."
He challenges us to not do something just because it is popular or expected. He asks each one of us to look inside our heart and make our lives from within instead of from without. He also states, "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think." I've heard that put another way by Wayne Dyer, "What other people think about me is none of my business." (This is very similar to a book published in 1988 by Terry Cole-Whittaker - What You Think of Me is None of My Business). And yet Emerson said it in more emphatic and passionate terms back in 1926 in his essay on self reliance. Some people think his essay is the best way to describe our great Nation and what made it great and how so many great people have risen from nothing to successes, no matter how you measure success.
I only hope I have the courage and inner hearing to know what this means for me, to trust my inner self even if it means non-conformity, to find the strength of character to go beyond worrying about what others think of me and enter my greatness of purpose, even if it isn't socially acceptable. I hope you too my friend can find this as well.