Home > Food for Thought, Self Reliance > Hello world!

Hello world!

I’ve been adding some new blogs to my life, so adding a WordPress blog seems to be a natural progression of sorts.  One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  He said this in his 1841 essay, ‘Self-Reliance‘.  I’ve found this little statement to be hugely important in my life.

While Emerson says this as being, “adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”, I find that foolish consistencies are a plague that inflicts us all.  We should seek adventure, challenge, and the unknown, so that we can rediscover ourselves and conquer the important things that always lie ahead.

Little gains can be made by a stubborn insistence on consistence.  Some things should be done consistently.  Brushing your teeth (and flossing) not only prevents tooth and gum decay, but engenders hygiene and good health.  But foolish consistencies lead to stagnation.  Emerson continues his passage with, “With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.”  Importantly, he speaks here not just of foolish consistencies, but all.  For consistency is ritual and the purpose of ritual is to stop thinking and just to repeat.  Imitate. Shadow.

Emerson continues with a slightly more difficult matter, “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.— ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ —Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Emerson certainly did not intend to mean that every misunderstood person is great.  But he did mean, I believe, that it is important when seeking to be great to not be afraid of being misunderstood.  Being misunderstood, to be considered wrong, to find approval lacking, and to be shunted upon are the inevitable consequence of little minds seeking ritual over the adventure and challenge of seeking solutions to the thing we do not understand or know are not right and good.

My new-found efforts to write and to share are a part of my challenge and adventure.  I seek not approval or understanding, but believe that speaking and writing about the things that really matter are vital; I must force myself from speaking to shadows on the wall!

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