talent and character

I have been struggling lately with giving and receiving the compliment, "you are talented," not just because I feel like talent does not hold a flame to grit. It focuses on something that we cannot influence, rather than acknowledging the mountains of effort we pursue to move ourselves along.

This Emerson essay is worth the entire read, but these passages jumped out at me in particular.

I hope you are doing something kind today that cultivates your character, even on a Sunday.
And especially if it is a matter of causing the calamity to fade and disappear.

Happy Sunday, my dear ones!

"The difference between talents and character is adroitness to keep the old and trodden round, and power and courage to make a new road to new and better goals. Character makes an overpowering present; a cheerful, determined hour, which fortifies all the company, by making them see that much is possible and excellent that was not thought of. Character dulls the impression of particular events. When we see the conqueror, we do not think much of any one battle or success… The great man is not convulsible or tormentable; events pass over him without much impression. People say sometimes, ‘See what I have overcome; see how cheerful I am; see how completely I have triumphed over these black events.’ Not if they still remind me of the black event. True conquest is the causing the calamity to fade and disappear, as an early cloud of insignificant result in a history so large and advancing."


"The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why; in short, to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful: it is by abandonment. The great moments of history are the facilities of performance through the strength of ideas… They ask the aid of wild passions… to ape in some manner these flames and generosities of the heart."

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Lectures
for his 1841 essay titled “Circles,” exploring the pillars of personal growth and how we can learn to stop resisting the very things that help us transcend our self-imposed limitations.


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