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Self Reliance Discussion

ralph waldo emersonWhoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist–Ralph Waldo Emerson

First of all, I’m sorry that I forgot about January’s book selection. That’s what happened: somehow I completely forgot. For those of you who had not abandoned me over this, you might recall that we read Emerson’s Self Reliance.

It had been about 10 years since I read it. It was fun to see how many familiar phrases are packed into this one essay. I say “The hobgoblins of little minds” about once a week, but had completely forgotten where I learned it.

I was most interested in the section on travel. My parents moved to Switzerland a few weeks ago and I’ll be going to visit Europe soon. I’ve always looked at my non-globetrotteriness as a flaw. I haven’t been anywhere. I haven’t seen anything. What is old in America isn’t really old. That sort of stuff.

And then I read Self Reliance again and now I am questioning my motivations for wanting to travel. Sort of.  Emerson eloquently says that if you think you can find the answers, or find happiness, simply by crossing an ocean or stepping into an old building, you’re a delusional weenie.

But I don’t want to travel to find answers or happiness. I want to travel because I have spent the majority of my adult life in Nevada, Idaho, and Salt Lake City. These are good places that I love, but I have questions about places that I’ve never been to. Curiosity—this nagging need to ask questions and have them answered—is one of the few tics or compulsions I have that I do not want to be rid of.

For those of you who read the essay, or who have read it before, I have a couple of questions.

1. Did you like it?

2. What section or sections do you most closely identify with?

3. What is your definition of self reliance?

And if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, please do it now. I’ll be sending out February’s selection later today, and it ties in nicely with Emerson’s work.


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