Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
Shel Silverstein’s illustration, “The Thinker of Tender Thoughts,” perfectly captures the difficulties of staying true to oneself when face-to-face with the world. The most tender thoughts, though carefully cultivated and privately adored, once exposed to the public, may become subject to our intrinsic capacity for self-destruction. So I urge you, as did Emerson and Silverstein, to remember the independence of solitude. Listen to public opinion but don’t let it destroy you. Sometimes, the public, whether it be the public at large, your friends and family or an editor, may lend you new eyes through which to enhance your art. Which is great. But sometimes, your immediate public just won’t get it. And that’s okay. If you stay true to yourself and your craft, you’ll find the public that does.
On a side note, make sure to visit Shel’s website. It has amazing features for kids, teachers and parents. It’s a delicious slice of childhood.
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