Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Independence of Solitude

As I wrote about last month, the name "Raindrops and Sunshowers" comes from a favorite song of mine that talks about the inability we have has human beings to please everyone and our neglected ability to think for ourselves and do what pleases us most. Now, this may not be a problem for everyone but I know it is certainly a problem for me. Conformity and independence are popular subjects in our society. We talk about how easy it is to conform to the world around us and how we should try to avoid it. And though there is nothing wrong with these opinions...Personally I am not one to preach about rising above the crowd, making statements and being different. In fact, I blend with the crowd probably more then most. But there is a reason I do not preach it...that reason being: I do not believe that is what independence is. It is not about dressing extreme or doing different, strange things to stand out. You don't have to physically stand out, speak louder then other people, or be abnormally opinionated. Independence comes with the freedom of thought and the capacity you allow yourself to nourish new ideas.

One of the most influential pieces of literature in my life is "Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is genius--in my opinion. And I think many would agree with me. Within this essay, Emerson defines what it truly means to be independent, which is in his words, is being "self-reliant". Growing up, I felt as though I constantly had someone to please, whether by nature or nurture...this is how I felt. It is just the way Kristen is. When a decision needs to be made, it can never just be what I want, it has to include every person's opinion that could possibly be involved in the outcome of the decision. And Emerson saw others like this! And I think it annoyed him. He saw a society being morphed into a society of pleasers-like me ;)-and this is what he said, "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 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." It is true, probably one of the hardest things to do is stop the constant clamor around you and think in a brief moment, completely for yourself--neglecting the opinions of the world.
He also talks about how no man should dismiss a thought, just because it is his.

This reminds me of a friend I have. This friend randomly thinks of very intelligent, deep, original ideas of his very own. When he shares these ideas with me, I am mesmerized and almost jealous of the genuine quality of his thoughts. But I feel that because "it is his" he doesn't consider them to be worth all that much. Not because he is not confident in himself, but because in our society, there is a lack of independent thought. And though this blog entry may seem hypocritical, because I am quoting the words of a great mind, Ralph Waldo Emerson...and much of this is not my own original ideas. His words sparked my own imagination and has taught and inspired me to really try to not be afraid of what I can comprehend and what I cannot: who I really am.
"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."

1 comment:

from keen.