[I wrote most of this in 2006 with a bit more added today…a reflection of Emerson’s essay of the same name. ]
When I’ve thought of self-reliance in the past, it’s always been in the form of survival, of doing what needed to be done and usually without anyone’s help. I learned to rely on certain skills to live my life and care for my children – skills such as: my ability to work and learn, intellect, communication, to “read” people, humor, to get back up no matter how much I was beaten down, to adapt, to change. These are the tools that kept me alive, fed my children, and allowed me to build a life. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the challenges I’ve overcome. My abilities served me well.
However, there were times when I did not trust my own judgment. I occasionally lost touch with any sense of God-presence and many times turned to my human abilities or the words of others rather than rely on a Higher Power. I was self-reliant, but with a small “s.”
Emerson’s self-reliance offers a different perspective. He defines it as “a new respect for the divinity in man.” This interpretation has me thinking of it as Self-reliance (with a big “S”). I now view the term as, not what I can do to live, but what I can be to express who I am in this life.
I agree with Emerson on a number of points he made. I can believe in my own thought; I can trust myself. As a living expression of God, I must find courage to fully express my uniqueness, my talents and abilities, without hesitation. There is no reason to imitate someone else in order to find fulfillment in my life – “imitation is suicide” and it kills the core of who I am. If I believe that “infancy conforms to nobody,” then why would I choose conformity as an adult and allow society more control over my life? “My life is not an apology, but a life.” I must and DO live it to the fullest capacity I can muster. Emerson states: “Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.”
Well, I know how to work, and am finally doing the work I’ve been called to do. I’m also learning to be the person I always dreamed I was – a unique expression of Spirit. May my actions express the greatness I feel inside me, without apology. “I must be myself.”