Time Off and Moving Forward

I had initially planned to take a few days between blog posts. That time came and passed.

Fast forward slightly more than two weeks, and I have experienced an ample delay that has brought me to a point where I must again engage my mind in the process of clear and reflective thought. This is not to suggest that my life has been void of such over the past sixteen days; however, writing possesses a fundamental value that mandates men to think deeply and intentionally of their past experiences and desires for future growth.

Taking time off from writing provided the detachment needed to recognize that although I enjoy the praise and sentiment offered by others (in regards to posts they’ve enjoyed), I do not directly seek such attention. In fact, if anything, such applaud motivates me to ask the question, “Why do we seek refuge from the production of other men?” I mean this not to cast judgement in any form, but instead to notice the inevitable truth that seems consistent to my being and congruent to my growth: it is often easier, or at least more natural, to accept wisdom and advice from others than it is to turn inward for meaning and progress. Perhaps it is the vulnerability associated with trusting our own intuition that pushes us away from our thoughts and convictions. Then again, perhaps not. Any way that this phenomenon of personal thought is dissected, I have learned that when I am consciously aware of my being and aggressively seeking forward motion, I can learn to empower my own mind.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson admonished man to recognize greatness in his own life and thought, so too did one of his most emphatic passages from “Self-Reliance,” his landmark essay that resonated with many of his contemporaries and modern Romantics. Emerson wrote:

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. (1-2)

So if we do reject our own thoughts, only to recognize them later in the works that others produce, then how do we cope? How do we deal with the frustrations of our own doing? How do we move forward when much of what is behind us has led to a mountain of both excellence and discontent? How do we reconcile our mixed efforts? Among a culture and society that highlights failure but quickly dismisses achievement in the name of meeting expectations, how do we value our progress and the individual capable of so much? The answer will never be the same for all of us.

The tangled web of understanding and truth that each man seeks may never fully present itself, though each man may, as Emerson perhaps intended to suggest, spin his own web among a world full of hindrances and impediments. Each man might build such a mental framework that he may be capable of navigating the treachery known as self-doubt, judgement, outside pressures, fear, and anxiety of the unknown. Each man may eventually teach himself to trust his own construction rather than that of men before him and beside him. If this can become the case for any one man, then it can surely be the case for me.

If taking time off from writing has taught me that Emerson had a point or two, then I really haven’t learned anything new–after all, I have been teaching many of his works among my English classes for a few years now; however, like any medium worth revisiting, a fresh lens of examination can sometimes provide a new focal point, understanding, or perceived value. This is the beauty of leaving oneself open to the continuum of growth and exploration, for adventures only cease to exist when you allow such to happen.

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”

-Helen Keller

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