MKE, Week 22a: Self Reliance

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. The 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 he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” 

How do we maintain solidarity in ourselves when we are bombarded with the expectations of the world? When we have the privilege of solitude, it is easy to Know ourselves and do as we please. But as soon as we meet the world, and the voices and opinions of those we care about and care to please, and even those we don’t, we begin to drift from our true center. The sounds of the crowd drown out that little voice inside that tells the absolute and painful truth. Painful? Only because sometimes our truth is against, not only what is expected, but also what comes easy. 

I’ve been ever aware of this over the last few years, as I’ve wandered the Earth on some heart-directed journey of non-logic. Does anyone in their right mind want/think-its-a-good-idea to move thousands of miles across oceans and land masses at every whim of dream or intuition about once every year and a half? Um, no. I mean traveling is great…but Moving implies a different undertaking. But there’s something to be said for that level of commitment and affinity for risk. 

Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc, without fear; bravery. 

The heart as the source of emotion. ❤

To act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism. 

Heart-age. The age of the heart…is timeless. 

I’ve never really been able to quiet my heart. I mean, maybe temporarily. I mean, maybe there were times I wasn’t listening when it was speaking…I mean, maybe there were times the other, inauthentic voices somehow were louder…but with practice I learned to hear the whispers of my intuition, my heart’s voice, and developing trust in that inner voice created a level of Self Reliance that trumps all external validation. 

“The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion.”

We are taught to walk through the field in the direction of the other sheep. Society prefers us docile for convenience and control. It’s assumed that if we are “content” we won’t cause any disruptions. But inauthentic contentedness has its own kind of unrest. Distress of the heart. Following the crowd often doesn’t please the soul, even if it does feel comfortable for awhile. It takes a special effort to step out of the box of what we are told is the way of life. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to live some adventurous life of single-dom, traveling the world, taking epic pictures and eating strange foods at midnight. It means you create whatever version of this is sacred to you. I, nor anyone, even your most trusted confidant, can tell you what that path is for you. That is why you must listen, to the whispers within. That is why you must learn to rely only on your self…she knows the way, and only she. 

“No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong is what is against it.” 

In all my wandering astray the expected path, I’ve faced a fair amount of disapproval and lecturing from those who thought they knew what I needed better than I. I smiled and nodded, but I still followed the truth and wildness of my nature. And even though it hasn’t been easy, it’s been FUN and exciting!  And man, have I grown and expanded. Even more, I’ve found support and validation in the most unexpected places, and that has humbled me and filled me with gratitude and grace, only strengthening my will to listen and follow my heart with even more courage. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson has always been one of my heroes, since I first came upon his work in high school. His messages are timeless and ever applicable to a life of meaning. The quotations here are from his essay Self-Reliance written in 1841. 



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