Waves on the Ocean : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 005

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


Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.


Since I wasn’t sure what he meant by an “iron string”, I looked it up online (what an amazing time we live in), and found the following resource: https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/self-reliance-describe-what-emerson-compares-617425

Then I thought to myself… well, duh. The “that” that he refers to is trust in oneself. So the iron string is trust in oneself. Iron because it’s strong, string because it’s beautiful music, vibrating with life.

Why did the greats become great by trusting themselves? Because they knew (either consciously or subconsciously) that a power greater than themselves was working through them – that power being the universe.

We are all waves on the ocean of the universe. Not the whole universe, but a legitimate part that it wouldn’t be the same without.

Be the wave that you are.

6 thoughts on “Waves on the Ocean : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 005

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