When I run out of books to read, I find myself going to my own bookcase and searching for the ones I bought with good intentions but never got around to reading. A few days ago, I pulled from the shelf Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I bought it about a year ago after a friend commented that he was reading Emerson. It is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics collection. One can get it inexpensively through Amazon. A while back I read Varieties of Religious Experience from this same series. It is easy to see why these are considered classics. They speak universal truths. I find myself penciling a sentence in just about every paragraph and writing my story in the margins.
Having complained about how my life seems to get into the way of my passion, I find this morning that this is a universal problem for artistic people. Emerson offers comfort as he shows how important life experience is to the artist. I love this quote from his essay, “The American Scholar”:
Only so much do I know, as I have lived.
Simply put, if I don’t live my life, there is nothing to write about. I believe this applies to all artistic expressions including visual and performing arts. Watching the The Kominsky Method on Netflix last night, lead character/drama teacher, Sandy Kominsky, made this exact point to his drama students. Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, says the same.
More Emerson wisdom:
The world, – this shadow of the soul or other me, lies wide around me. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself…I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom.
Gads, Ralph! You have been reading my blogs from your heavenly place and noting my constant complaining about having so much to do that I can’t get around to writing! If I were George Bailey you would be my Clarence.
I guess I should say, “Thanks for dropping by and helping me to appreciate my life as…
… raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products.
Today I go to watch my grandson Jackson’s Christmas concert. Raw material at its best.