No man ever followed his genius till it misled him.. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
To help kick the anniversary this week of the publishing of Walden into really high gear, we have another quote from that book for The Thought for the Day.
Thoreau fans know that he used the word ‘genius’ from time to time and he is not talking about rocket scientists. He is referring to the innate abilities and inclinations all of us are born with and some research shows this is more or less what genius meant way back when.
One of the earliest lessons we remember learning in Lutheran school is that everyone can do something well. Some are good at math, some at reading, some are good athletes while an annoying few can do all these things well. Our particular skill was reading and memory work. Lutheran schools presented the requisite number of Bible passages, creeds and commandments to memorize. I did it better than most.
Following your genius isn’t hard: you find what you are meant to do and you do it until you die. People who do this are the ones who lead the most satisfying, useful and well-lived lives. They live lives that are useful to themselves and, since they are useful to themselves they are in position to be useful to others.
But you must follow your genius every day. Doing it one day and not the next won’t get it done. Being on your path for a couple of weeks while taking the rest of the year off doesn’t do you or your fellow citizens any good. You must live the life you were meant to live every day. There is no letup.
And this is why it is so difficult. Actually doing the things you were born to do isn’t all that tough. You’re utilizing the talents you were issued at birth and since Nature isn’t an idiot, she saw to it you enjoy what you are good at. Doing things you have a knack for and enjoy is a pleasure.
It’s doing them every single day that is challenging. It’s doing them when you also have to go and earn a living or when the car needs to be taken in or when someone is annoying you. But if you follow your genius every day, it will take you exactly where you were meant to go in this life.
The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.