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.