Renaissance Man Quote of the Week: Ralph Waldo Emerson


“We have keys to all doors. We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck…”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Emerson was an American essayist and poet that lived in the 19th century.  Along with other writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott , Emerson is known for his role in leading the Transcendentalism movement (click to read about Transcendentalism).  Unfortunately (for Emerson) very few people agreed with the ideals of Transcendentalism.  Even Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favorites and a notoriously drunk person, found the need to write a story for the sole purpose of trashing Transcendentalism, Never Bet the Devil Your Head.  And while I completely disagree with pretty much all of the Transcendentalism, there is still a lot that we can learn from the works of Emerson.

The quote above, from Emerson’s Letters and Social Aims, states that we are all inventors.  This is something that I think we can all take to heart.  Much like Einstein’s famous “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”,  these quotes remind us that we are all uniquely gifted and we all have something to add to the world.

It is important to read all types of people’s work, even those whom you disagree with.  Like you, they too have knowledge to add to the world (we are all inventors!)… and to them, you are just someone that they disagree with.  Plus, challenging yourself by reading other people’s work will stretch you and challenge you.  It is through this challenge that we grow!


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