Saturday, 29 October 2011

Some Saturday soul food: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sweet Planetarians, I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend (and I‘m pleased to see so many entries in my giveaway already!). Miss India spent the morning helping Mr PB whip up some lemonade scones, a teacake and Anzac biscuits. We then had all 3 grandparents over for afternoon tea, to everyone’s great delight. Mr PB’s parents were amazed at how much the pixies have grown up in the past 3 months, especially Sam. Lots of cuddles (or ‘squeezies’ as the extra-tight ones are called on PB!) and kisses were shared. 

The pixies proudly showed off their world map displaying Grandma and Grandpa’s postcards – Grandma was so enamoured of it, she wanted to take the whole lot home with her, postcards and all! And thoughts and feelings were openly shared about recent times as we started this new chapter in our lives of meeting with 3 grandparents instead of 4. Then fabulous travel tales unfolded with many more to be regaled in the weeks ahead. A bittersweet time indeed.
Today, I’d like to share a quotation from the influential American essayist, lecturer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a fascinating man of many talents and interests, I gather. Here’s one of his more memorable quotations.

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics; and to endure the betrayal of false friends.

To appreciate beauty;

to find the best 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 even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded. 

I think this is a fabulous definition of, or recipe for, success. I love his entire lack of focus on wealth or social standing, almost the antithesis of 21st century life with its celebrity-driven emphasis.

Finding ‘honest critics’ is a rare feat nowadays, I think – I treasure those friends whom I know will share their honest opinions with me. Some of you are reading this!

‘Finding the best in others’ is something I really try my hardest to do but sometimes it can be a mighty *challenge*, don’t you find?   

Having weeded our garden endlessly this week, I love the reference to the ‘garden patch’!

I’m not quite sure how one would assess a ‘redeemed social condition’ nowadays, though, or even if such a notion exists anymore!

But the last criterion is my absolute favourite – I adore the concept of having made your mark on the world by even helping one soul. I think that’s a hurdle we all should be able to successfully cross .

I’d love to hear your thoughts – do any phrases particularly resonate with you? And are any of you fans of Ralph Waldo Emerson? Do share – we all love reading each other's varied takes on life, don't we?

Oh, and I've had a go at making this quotation into a PDF for you to print out. I've uploaded it at Google docs here - please let me know if it works!

PS Don't forget to enter my giveaway! Those lovely pretties are waiting for one of you ☺.


  1. Oh he is brilliant and I am so pleased to have read this beautiful quote before bed, something positive to fall asleep on :o)
    I particularly like laugh often and much ... and to find the best in others. So many people forget what it's like to truly laugh from within, so therapeutic when we do. And to find the best in others is a given for me these days. I am learning as I grow older, to appreciate people's good points and understand/empathise with their not so appealing traits. It is something my own Mama has always instilled and now, I honestly 'get' what she means.
    Thank you Jane xo

  2. I love that quotation.
    I think it takes success down form a 'lofty ideal' place and demonstrates that a successful life is within reach for everyone.
    They are all wonderful things to strive for in an everyday, seemingly ordinary life.

  3. Oh Jane, its been far too long and I am afraid that I didn't even know about your Dad. Bloody crappy internet on the road. I am so so terribly sad and sorry for you and your famly. What an awfully difficult time. I've been sitting here for ages staring at the screen. I really have no words. I wish I could give you a sqeezie. xx

  4. So firstly - thank you SO much for placing my button so beautifully on your sidebar - I'm honoured (and glad it actually works!)
    secondly - I love this post - the photo is wonderful and the words thought provoking. As you know my dad was gone long before my children arrived...and I often moan about how their 'other' Grandad takes so little interest in them...knowing how much my own father would have cherished every moment.
    I too try to find the good (and usually struggle!) and it's refreshing to be able to say so. (who am I kidding, I moan about it all the time!!)
    Anyway - I hadn't heard of this Emerson Chap but I love this take on a successful life and will work on a way to keep it handy and refer back when I'm thinking mean thoughts!
    A large hug coming your way NOW
    fee x

  5. I used this quote in the speech I gave at my daughters 21st. I've always loved it. It's on my fridge too!

  6. That quote! It speaks to me on every kind of level I want to guide my life to be on, it's my life goals, & dreams for this world, served up & articulated so well in one perfect little quote.

    I think that's the best thing I have read in a really long time.

    Thankyou for sharing xx

  7. Yes Jane, indeed a quote to live by.

  8. My darling children were born with only 3 grandparents, it's so sad. I feel so sad at Grandparents Day at school, even when we lived in Sydney where they all live, my parents were too busy travelling (good for them) but my FIL, not interested, worse, he couldn't be more involved with the last 2 grandchildren, almost as if the other 10 don't exist. I'll never understand the imbalance. Love Posie

  9. That's a beautiful quote Jane and a lovely thing to ponder at the end of a relaxing weekend. Thank you for sharing it with us xo

  10. I love every line of that quotation and especially the line about leaving the World a bit better with a healthy child.....This really resonates with me as something I have been trying to take on board as success rather then endlessly striving for things. Have you seen the movie Economics of Happiness? We showed this recently at work, working for an environmental group and it pushes the point that having more stuff does not make you happy. Gx

  11. I love this quote - just beautiful and, as you say, such a different focus on what is important than what we often hear in the world around us. Sometimes I get caught up in what I can't do, rather than what I can but yes, if even one life has breathed easier, I think that is indeed a wonderful measure of success. Thanks for the reminder.

    I'm sorry for the hard time that you are still working through - and of course will be in a way forever - but glad that you are able to talk freely about it. It certainly helps.

    And I love your very Aussie sounding afternoon tea - teacake, anzacs and scones! It almost made me make a batch of scones today but I resisted. When we next have company though, I know what I'm making.

  12. I am always finding comfort and inspiration in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson picked some of the best. Robert Frost is another....
    You are spot on and truly inspirational always :)

    Jeanne xx

  13. What a gorgeous photo that is, Jane! The quote ain't bad either. "Breathed easier" - I like that. x

  14. I just saw a lovely picture of you over at Ness, wish I could come to the next market with you! Have a good and rested week sweetie,
    Maureen xx

  15. one of my favorite quotes and one day i want to paint/write it on a canvas...maybe one day? : ) i am an emerson fan and i also have a few favorites from oscar wilde.

  16. Oh, I'm so delighted it resonated with you all.

    Thanks, Kate, you darling. No apologies needed - you are very busy on the road, living life to its fullest.

    Oh Fee. You always make me smile. Sending a hug right back at you, my friend! J x

    Thanks Kate - I'm looking forward to a post about your afternoon tea ☺. J x
    My pleasure, Cherie. I hope the Google Docs attachment works, if you want to print it out.

    Oh Jennie. Families - we don't get to choose them, do we?


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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