From RWE’s “Self-Reliance.”

Posted in Flotsam by George Slade on February 20, 2010

Hey, Les.

You up on your Transcendentalism? This is from Emerson, and I found it moving, today:

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.

I feel like so many are caught in the bind of admiring, and seeking to emulate, what someone else has created. Seeing success, and thinking it takes only a set of procedures to accomplish it. A sequence, set and named, more than a bravely, unwittingly followed interior agenda, something moving you forward that can hardly be identified, quantified, or labeled.

What do we learn from teachers, except to ignore their lessons? Or, rather, to ignore the model they set, for it worked for them in the unique circumstances of a life’s evolution and is unlikely to yield similar results if tried in another context.

Oh, where have I been today, to be thinking these thoughts…mucking about in the hills of suburbia, where so many lives seem to emulate each other.


6 Responses

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  1. zellar said, on February 20, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Osage delivers again, with an assist from the wise old scold Emerson, who down here on the desolate Panhandle I’m discovering can really hammer them spikes home as hard as John Henry. Bless you, fellas (and fillies).

  2. Jogn said, on February 21, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Well some of our work needs to be admired enough to sell a book or two!

  3. Alec Soth said, on February 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Dear Osage,

    Since Lester appears to be off the grid again, I thought I’d put in my two cents. Ordinarily I love me some Transcendentalism, but can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm this morning. To be honest, those hills of suburbia sound kind of nice. I wouldn’t mind unbuttoning my pants and sinking into a television-land for a couple of months.

    But maybe Transcendentalism and suburbia aren’t so opposed. I think of Allen Ginsberg conjuring Walt Whitman in the supermarket:

    “I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys. I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel? I wandered in and out of the brilliant stocks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective. We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.”

    Maybe as Trancendentalist wannabe’s we should embrace the neon fruit supermarket. Maybe we should make our own television show. Wait, someone already has:

    Happy Trails…


  4. Lester B. said, on February 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    No, I’m not off the grid. I just don’t give much credit to lifestyle manuals – or Emmanuel for that matter. I’m a broken man. I’m Toby Dammit:

    • osagegelder said, on February 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      Les, please remind Alec to keep his pants on, especially when he’s contemplating lightly-loafered Walt W.

      Can you, or Kant you?

      yrs, og

      • osagegelder said, on February 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        And, Les, p.s. You’re not as broken as you think. Your head is in the right place. You’ve never been much of a hurdler, but I know you have trouble with stinky little men on bridges.

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