I finally read Self-Reliance — an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson that has been on my “To Read” list for too long.
Though at times a bit tough to chew, and at times rather preachy, I have to say I couldn’t put my highlighter down. The essay is full of thought-provoking lines that balance philosophical musings and poetic prose.
Here is a tiny selection of the highlights I added to my journal, as well as some brief margin notes:
“No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.”
— Listen to your heart, connect with your consciousness. Live with integrity. Echoes of Shakespeare’s “... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
“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 than 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 own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
— Yes! Define what success means to you.
“Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.”
— Follow a traditional path (outlined by someone else), and you will have a traditional outcome.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
— Simple and succinct wisdom. Find peace within. Echoes of Stoicism, Viktor Frankl.
There are lots of other great lines that I didn’t have space to include here. If these resonated, I highly recommend reading or re-reading the original.
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