Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Footprints Of Fools

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.

The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers─ under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.

And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do your work and I shall know you. Do your work and you shall reinforce yourself.

Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1841 essay Self-Reliance explains self-responsibility and how easy it is to put it in the hands of others. When we allow the crowd mentality to rule our decision making, our creative expression is lost in the footprints of fools. We become fragments of sensibility in the wind of confusion. Life becomes a tug of war that nobody wins. Our energy waits for approval and as it does it stagnates in the fluids of mass confusion. We float from promise to promise like a leaf that has left the tree of life for a place in the dirt of censored traditions.

Our institutions have become cults that worship greed and irresponsibility. Religions fight each other to gain the favor of a God that has no favorites. Our political system rots in the bowels of lawyers that corrupt the will of the people with the stench of half-truths and fictitious fears. We sit in the pews of terror and see ourselves looking into the mirror of justification and revenge.

The solitude of self-responsibility waits for us to cross the threshold of creativity, and be the housekeeper that is no longer sweeping up the distorted rituals of life. Our solitude brings us in line with our subjectivity where the footprints of fools vanish in the vastness of the art.

No comments: