Tracy, Lizzie, and Weird Al – Original and Not Conventional : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 003

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instill is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, —that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility than most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”


 

Three words – Stop Dismissing Yourself.

You, and only you, have something unique to offer the world. No one else can do this thing, whatever it is, in the same way that you can. Until you find an exact copy of yourself (which you never will), you will never find anyone else who can make the same contributions to the world that you can, in the same way that you can.

“But how do I know what that contribution should be???”

Your own brain will tell you. It takes your genetics, combines them with your experiences, and begins to tell you, with “that gleam of light which flashes across [your] mind from within”, just what it is you are here to do.

That contribution may not make you a million dollars (or even make you financially stable). It might not make you famous (or even well liked). It may not make you beautiful – as a matter of fact, you can be called “The World’s Ugliest Woman” and have a massive positive impact on the hearts and minds of young people.

Someone else might have a very similar gleam, and if you don’t take action on yours, they just might beat you too it!

Funny story – my wife Tracy insists that she came up with the idea for “Like A Surgeon” well before “Weird Al” Yankovic did. Knowing her, I believe it. As a matter of fact, her brother called her on the phone one day to tell her that he was listening to “her” song on the radio (maybe watching the video? I can’t really remember).

But Tracy’s gleam was still different from Al’s. Musical parody isn’t her path, and the contributions she makes to the world are massive in their own way. The point isn’t to follow every impulse all the way to releasing a hit song. It can be adding a bit of joy to the world among her circle of friends. But she could have said nothing, not mentioned the idea, and robbed her people of a bit of laughter.

When we do this, it creates ripples of joy further out than we could ever imagine.

The next time you notice that gleam, don’t hold it back – express it in whatever way feels right. Not good, but right.

“Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”

And so again:

Stop Dismissing Yourself.

That includes that comment that you want to write below. 🙂

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