But remember, at the time he wrote his essay, he wasn’t yet considered a master of American literature. And yet we must be brave enough to follow through on our ideas. Emboldened by Emerson, I dared to “abide by [my] spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility.”The themes of the novella—the blurring line between fact and fiction, how to process fake information on a web without context, and whether technology should be driving decisions—are now the stuff of daily headlines.
Emerson’s essay helped push me to pursue my boldest creative goal. But that wasn’t as clear when I started writing it, or when I blogged the story as a serial after countless publishers rejected it.
“Self-Reliance” tells us that the process of creating is its own reward.
We can only feel relieved and happy in life, he says, when we pour our hearts into our work and do our best. And so the essay frees us to speak our minds—and see what connects.
We each occupy a singular point in space and time, and our experiences can’t quite be replicated by anyone else.
Emerson thought that “great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this.” They show why we must trust ourselves and ”learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across [the] mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.”Many others have also celebrated Emerson as offering high-minded self-help for literary types.Emerson gives us a very confusing argument that seems to run around in circles with no apparent end in sight....[tags: Emerson's Self Reliance Essays] - Trust yourself, your intuition, and your nature.- It is impossible to live a whole life without the help of others.Everyone starts out relying on their parents to feed them, take care of them, and teach them.They taught themselves to ignore the din and doubt, and their ideas resonated with the world because they reflected a truth that others had sensed privately as well.“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts,” Emerson writes. Then I printed another copy and went back to underlining.“They come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” In every book or painting or film that moves us, we respond because they speak to a truth we recognize—if only subconsciously. Yet he understood the importance of holding convictions about your personal potential.“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all … “Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost.”Still, it can be hard to feel sure of ourselves—particularly as our personal failures accumulate. I bookmarked the digital version of the essay on my computers at work and at home. As I did, I became ever more certain that however ridiculous and daunting my goal might seem, the first step to accomplishing it was believing that it was worthwhile.Whenever I need a reminder about how to do this, I turn to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 essay on self reliance.“Self-Reliance,” considered Emerson’s most influential piece, works its magic much like an inspiring song that can get you through the last stretch of a grueling run.His central point is that we should not ignore those inner whispers, which may be barely audible under the din of outside influences and self-doubt. After all, the world’s greatest thinkers and leaders had the courage to hear themselves and to follow their convictions, without concerning themselves overly about tradition and what others might think. I printed out the essay and annotated it, carried it around with me, stained it with wine, and wore it out.However, the real question is “is it possible to be totally self-reliant”.After re-reading Self-Reliance I feel as though this question really can’t be answered.