For a long time now, I have been a Ralph Waldo Emerson “enthusiast.” There is something about his views on life that just “strikes a chord” with me. I have read a great deal about him, and by him. He is not the easiest person to read, much like other 19th-century writers. But I do believe he offers important lessons for us today.
And one came in the form of simply a word, his favorite word, Enthusiasm.
“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Merriam-Webster defines enthusiasm as a strong excitement of feeling, something inspiring zeal or fervor. Have you ever noticed how enthusiasm can be contagious? It can rub off on others. The term “fired up” comes to mind, as does the word “motivated.” There is an energy that cannot be denied. Not surprising that an excellent biography of Emerson is titled, The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson Jr.
How do we develop enthusiasm for the work required to reverse Climate Change and to prove those wrong who believe it is irreversible and who sap our energy and our hope?
My advice would be to avoid the naysayers, to find the doers, to find those who exude the energy of hope and of possibility, and to limit time online and spend more time in Nature. There is so much to distract us, to weigh us down, but Spring is here, a new beginning.
So live simply, enjoy being outdoors, plant a garden, plant a tree, compost, write an energetic op-ed piece, smile, and be the change you want to see. And speak and act with enthusiasm, with energy, and a sense of possibility. Don’t let the “world” snuff out your fire. And seek out like-minded folk.
And remember the words Emerson wrote:
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
And from Mary Oliver:
I Happened To Be Standing
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflower? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.
While I was thinking this I happened
to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever
or whatever you don’t. That’s your
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what
could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.
Wishing peace and health to you and your loved ones.
Thank you for being on this journey.
And Happy Spring!
Till next time,
* “I Happened to be Standing” by Mary Oliver. from Devotions. © Peguin Press, 2017.