Emersonian Person SelfReliance


Emersonian Person (Self-Reliance) Essay, Research Paper

e most Emersonian person that I have ever known would be with out a doubt be

Frederick Jones. I spent two summers working with this man on the Linville

River for the Kawana fishing club. In ?Self Reliance? Emerson writes ?Your

genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions.

Your conformity explains nothing?. This is clearly a call for individuality in

men. Though Frederick has probably never read or even heard of Ralph Waldo

Emerson, his way of life is very much in line with what Emerson claims will be

the only true way to inner peace.

Frederick is very much a mystery to the people of Linville, and except

for those who know him best, he is not very well liked. He quit school after

the eight grade, yet he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever

known. Like Emerson, Frederick believes that all he needs to know and

understand is with in himself. He claims to have no regret for quitting

school. His argument is that once he learned to read and write, what he did

with those skills should be at his discretion. Frederick is a wealthy man, but

very few people know to what extent. His beat up Ford truck and old work

cloths suggest nothing more that a simple working man. In fact this is exactly

what he is.

Frederick has a reputation for having little to say except for when the

issue concerns him, but he is also know for speaking his mind and standing up

for himself regardless of the consequence. Like most people he loathes taxes,

but it is not so much the money that bothers him as it is what he sees to be

criminal waste of his money. His feelings on giving money to the poor are much

the same as Emerson?s:

?… do not tell as a good man did today of my obligation to put all good men

into good situations. Are they my poor??(553)

If it were up to Frederick, there would not be a dime of him money spent on

welfare. I used to wonder why a man in his financial situation would subject

himself to such a life of labor. I finally asked him on one of the hottest days

of the summer while were chain sawing a trail through a Rhododendrem jungle.

All he said was ?it keeps me alive?. It was only then that I began to see what

that river means to him. Having lost his family to a car accident, that seven

mile stretch of river is his only source peace. Later in that summer while we

were walking down the river bank he said ?Out here things are real. These

trout, these mountains, this river-there is no bull *censored*, and that is one thing

I hate-bull *censored*?. Frederick is a man who depends on no one, and expects

nothing. He says what he feels, and he makes no apology when he offends.

Emerson states ?my life is not an apology, but a life? (553) This is precisely

how Frederick lives, and it is for this reason that he is not loved by the

masses. In his defense, Frederick is genuine. He is a man that can be taken at

face value, and people always know where they stand with him. It is not that

Frederick trys to hurt or belittle people, but he has a reputation for calling

situations as he sees them. He once told me ?the truth is often a lot more

painful than a lie, but life is to short for lies?. Most would agree that tact

is not his strong point, but having spent time with him all I can honestly say

it is not his strong point because it is not important to him. For Frederick

integrity is the most important thing a man can have.

In the time that I spent with him I never heard him do or say anything

to suggest that he is not perfectly content with himself. Emerson writes ?every

great man is unique?(565) With consistency that I have seen from no other man,

Frederick believes in himself, and that truly is unique. He is not a man that

judges other?s opinions as wrong, simply different. Emerson?s position that ?No

law can be sacred to me but that of my nature?(552) is exactly the way

Frederick lives his life. He is known for holding on to his principles

regardless of outside opinion. Because of the life he has made for himself, he

answers to no man and there are few people who do not respect him for that.

This goes right along with the Emerson’s belief that ?It is only as a man puts

off from himself all external support, and stands alone, that I see him to be

strong and to prevail.? If I have ever known a man that stands alone, it is

Frederick Jones. According to Emerson:

He who knows that the power is in the soul, that he is weak only because he has

looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself

unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect

position, commands his limbs, works miracles, just as a man who stands on his

feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head. (567)

When I think of Frederick Jones, I think of a man with a great deal of self

confidence, and an untarnished sense of self-satisfaction. He is a man who

knows who he is and what he stands for. His way of life is what Emerson claims

to be the only way to inner peace.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself, nothing can bring you peace but the

triumph of principles.(567)

Whether he knows it or not, Frederick Jones? life more resembles

Emerson’s philosophy more than other man that I have ever known.

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