If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in… Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Which one are you becoming?
One of those city dolls? Or the cat always falling on his feet?
Emerson wrote this in the 1840s, when the Industrial Age was still getting warmed up. Simply by virtue of your reading this right now, I can say with some confidence that you’ve been trained to be one of those city dolls.
You didn’t choose that training.
Whether you choose to continue becoming one of those city dolls, however, is entirely up to you.
I found this passage from Emerson’s incisive essay Self-Reliance in Seth Godin’s Linchpin.