I spent father’s day weekend deep in the wilderness with my 5-year-old son, far from the reach of cell phone signals and the internet.
I admit that I had a hard time. I worried about missing something important while I was “out of touch” But after a day I realized that I was not out of touch at all. In fact I was getting in touch with what was truly important!
I can’t recommend too highly getting out in the wilderness. Not in a campground with hot showers and rows of other campers. Out where you are solely reliant on yourself. After the shock wears off it feels REALLY good to connect.
When I returned to the world of media and internet that we deem “normal” I was inspired to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance“.
If you have an hour or so free you might enjoy reading it, but if not here are some gems that I culled and I hope you find them as inspirational as I do.
Ralph says we should act on our spontaneous ideas “Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.” That’s great advice. How many times have we had an idea for years only to find someone else “discovered” it later? Don’t worry what others think, just go for it.
“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist”
Here is one I struggle with sometimes. “envy is ignorance” There will always be someone who is doing more or who is better at something. So what! Realize that you are worthy and do not be envious of others. Most envy is fueled by medias attempt to make us dissatisfied with ourselves. That is how they sell us sh^t we don’t need.
“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members…. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions…you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.”
“If you…vote with a great party either for the government or against it…I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.”
“The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.”
“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”
“These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”
“But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”
“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.”
“They measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is”
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”