Saturday, March 21, 2009

Old Nonsense: Dismiss The Stress

I recently recommended Thoreau's WALDEN to my son, who had to read nonfiction for his English class. In doing so I happened upon some other work of American Transcendentalists, and it came at a perfect time. The last two weeks have been particularly stressful, mainly in the fact that my tasks were unrelenting: always a new chore to check off the list, a new place to go, a new contractual obligation to fulfill. Even Friday not was not a time of relaxation, because I had promised to teach a class early Saturday morning.

I was pleased, then, to see this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, king of the Transcendentalists, written on the blackboard of a fellow English teacher:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it with too high a spirit to be encumbered with old nonsense."

How freeing these words are! How refreshing to be able to dismiss the day's mistakes or problems as "old nonsense" and move on, re-energized.

There are so many mantras to choose from; in the unrelenting present, I think that being able to rise above my concerns is just the ticket. I choose Ralph Waldo for the time being, since I can't head to the woods just now (sorry, Thoreau).


pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband, a political theorist, is amazed at how rarely Thoreau shows up in college syllabi nowadays. The entire Concord Circle, and their interest in nature and communal life seems to have vanished from the landscape at just the time we should be reading them. Maybe your son can lead a revival.

Julia Buckley said...

I agree, Patti! I think we need a Transcendental Renaissance. I was just reading an article that suggested too few students are going to college for the satisfaction of being educated and too many are going for a certificate of completion. Perhaps there's a link between these bottom line philosophies and the curriculum of the present.

Chester Campbell said...

Your Emerson quote was interesting, Julia. I used an Emerson quote for the title of my new book out in a few weeks, The Surest Poison. Emerson said "the surest poison is time." I gave it a double meaning since the book is about a toxic chemical spill and the ravages of time.

I've never delved into transcendentalism, but it sounds like a fertile field for discussion.

Julia Buckley said...

Chester, what a great title! I love finding literary titles, as well.

And boy was Emerson right. Especially wasted time. :)