Archive for August 2nd, 2021


GC Myers- Reverie sm

Reverie“- Now Hanging at the West End Gallery

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.

― Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wasn’t going to write much this morning then came across the passage above supposedly from Ralph Waldo Emerson. It fit well with the little bit bit I was going to write. I didn’t doubt the origin but decided to find out which of Emerson’s writings contained it. Turns out this was another example of someone making an unfounded claim and it gains popularity and becomes accepted as fact.

Sounds like social media today, right? Unfortunately, it’s been going on for awhile now, though usually not with the malicious intent we see associated with such things today.

The faux-Emerson passage at the top began circulating around 1951 from an attribution in a syndicated newspaper column. It basically paraphrased a similar sentiment that was published over 45 years earlier in a 1905 Kansas newspaper, the Emporia Gazette. It was an entry from a Kansas woman, Bessie Stanley, in an essay contest whose aim was to provide an answer to the question: What constitutes success?

Here’s Mrs. Stanley’s answer, which earned her $250 which was a considerable sum in 1905:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.

I am glad to give the credit for this short essay to Mrs. Stanley. Emerson gets enough credit for the sentiments he actually expressed let alone those he never said or wrote. But I guess it doesn’t really matter who said it. It’s a nice simple blueprint for living.

Live a life that doesn’t harm but instead seeks to help others. Leave this planet better in some way for you having spent your time here.

It’s easy but not always as easy as it should be. Sometimes we head down paths that stray away from that simple goal and we find ourselves in need of recalibration. This sometimes leads to forms of redemption. This is most often associated with a religious reawakening in the individual. For others, redemption comes from changing their way of life out of the desire to live a simpler, uncluttered life free of regrets and guilt. One free from darkness and filled with light.

That leads me to the song I was originally going to share without much fanfare, River, from Leon Bridges. This is a song that is definitely about redemption.  While I am not religious, I understand the concept and the idea of anyone changing their lives for the better, regardless of the reason behind it, has an undeniable grace. This song has such a grace.

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