I must have found today’s wisdom twice!
I had it in the wings to write about this week, and had picked out photos of a collage it had inspired, to use as illustration.
But yesterday, sorting though my art things, I came upon a little book that I’d used to collect last year’s 31 Mini-Collages. Here I now also saw a few additional (mini) collages I’d done and included shortly after that time, but had forgotten about till leafing now through the little book.
This was one of them:
Be not the slave of your own past…”
That’s all it says.
But that’s just the beginning of the famous quote. This first collage of mine leaves the viewer hanging…
The pictures in it hint that the slavery it’s addressing revolves around tradition or family history. And both can get a strong hold on a person and not want to let go.
I had just observed an interesting example last week:
I’d gone out to lunch with a friend. The wind blew blustery and biting in the parking lot; so naturally we made a beeline for the closest door. Alas, the closest door turned out to be locked; so we made our way, shivering, around to the front of the building and entered by the main entrance.
After an enjoyable lunch, when we stood up to leave, I turned to go out the side door that had been locked but now was obviously unlocked, at least from the inside. But my friend said, “I can’t go out that door. I have to go out the front door.” I just stood looking quizzical, waiting for an explanation. As we moved toward the front door, she explained: “I’m Pennsylvania Dutch. I’ve always been told you should never go out a different door from the one you came in.”
Omygoodness! I thought. I had the same heritage, and I now remembered that same admonition in my own family. But I’d completely forgotten it. And I don’t think I ever learned just why, supposedly, you should always exit by the same door you entered.
My friend didn’t know either. It was just a tradition from childhood, but it still had a firm grip on her after decades of adulthood.
Whether Emerson was referring to tradition I don’t know, but when you read the whole context of what he wrote, you’ll probably suspect there’s much more to it than that. For it speaks of gaining self-respect among other things. And, where the brief bit of quote above gives no clue as to how one might avoid being a slave to such things, the context it comes from does:
Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, Dive deep, and swim far.
So you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”
“Plunge into the sublime seas”! Whatever Emerson had in mind by that, what it signifies to me is diving deep into fellowship with Christ, soaking up His presence, getting in tune with His widsom and His ways, walking–or, “swimming”–with him in profound, holy, yielded fellowship.
What could better give you self-respect and new power, and an advanced experience that could explain and overlook the old one?
Q: What are some ways you could be enslaved by your past?
(Remedy: “Plunge into the sublime seas…””)