December 3, 2010

The Quotable Mr. Emerson

The best part of having access to the internet and it's vast storehouse of knowledge is the ability, with a touch of the keyboard, to search for wisdom long since buried in scholarly tomes.  Since I don't consider myself much of a scholar, much to my chagrin, I truly appreciate the ease and accessibility to the great writings of those intellects that have gone before me.  As I have investigated, slowly at first and working up to the fever pitch of the present day, I have found words of wisdom from all time periods through my inquiries of such a simple word as 'quotes'.  I have come to the rather interesting conclusion that Mr. Emerson may very well be on of my favorite thinkers and writers.

Prior to my access to the internet, I knew absolutely nothing about Mr. Emerson.  It is only through close and personal contact with his words, as they are everywhere in cyberspace, that I have sensed a commonality with his thinking.  At least, some of it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American lecturer, essayist, and poet, best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
~wiki


Among transcendentalists' core convictions was the belief in an ideal spiritual state that "transcends" the physical and empirical (scientific) and is realized only through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religion. While I may lean toward the intuitive, I cannot totally dismiss the reality of the physical and logical conclusions and experiences of daily life; nor can I deny the existence of a living, loving Deity that is revealed through Scripture.  I don't bring this up to discuss the merits or misdeeds of American Transcendentalism, but merely to comment on Mr. Emerson's claim to fame, as it were.

What truly interests me is his philosophical writings that I have discovered online.  My favorite person to quote, he has said some of the most profound things - thoughts that have mimicked my own thoughts on life and relationship.  Let me share just a few; pondering these words is interesting and stimulating to those given to philosophizing...

A good indignation brings out all one's powers.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, 
but he is brave five minutes longer.

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, 
for beauty is God's handwriting.

Character is higher than intellect. 
A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.

Every one I meet is in some way my superior.

Whatever you do, you need courage. 
Whatever course you decide upon, 
there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. 
There are always difficulties arising that tempt you 
to believe your critics are right.

I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization 
is the influence of good women.


See what I mean? Insightful, to be sure. Here's a few more:

To be yourself in a world that is 
constantly trying to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, 
pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

To be great is to be misunderstood.

People do not seem to realize that 
their opinion of the world 
is also a confession of character.


And, my all-time favorite:

To laugh often and much; 
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...
to leave the world a better place...
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.


Ah yes...isn't that great?  I hold Mr. Emerson in high regard for his intellect, his writing style, his wisdom and his bravery for writing down his thoughts and pondering.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. 
It is to be useful, to be honorable, 
to be compassionate, 
to have it make some difference 
that you have lived and lived well.

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