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This idea by Emerson is one I've been struggling to impress upon myself in my attempts to not be a little mind. My problem is that I hesitate when I am not sure. This habit has been taught to me from youth, and it follows common sense. So what's the problem with it? Well, what are the things that makes one sure? A lot of times it is the concurring opinion of peers. And therein lies the rub, because following the conventional habit leads to the perverse situation where a person hesitates in expressing their opinion unless it is the opinion of many. Emerson tells us to "speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day". Inconsistency is a necessary evil: it can only be avoided if we are unwilling to speak unless assured of the agreement of others or if, like many politicians do, we insist on protecting an idea that has ceased to serve its function. To people who are offended by inconsistencies we should quote the above title to which Emerson adds that "with consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do". Or better yet, we should quote Walt Whitman, another great mind: "Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself,/(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

And yet I do hesistate, I do fear saying something stupid and then having to protect it. And when I do say something stupid I do feel a petty need to stick to my folly. Woe unto me, I am truly a little mind, or I have the habits of a little mind, but I am working on it. I am not talking about debates here, either. I'm talking about the casualest of  conversations. It is plainly ridiculous that I should keep myself from saying what comes to mind because I fear being caught in an inconsistency, a fib, or an embelishment, especially since in most casual conversation people are more interested in what they are saying than in what you are saying.

My problem is not that I hold my potential utterances to too high a standard, it is that I hold them to the wrong standard: consistency instead of integrity. Emerson tells us that "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within" since "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,--that is genius". I have read these words often and carefully. I agree with them entirely. But apparently, I have not internalized them and I continue to instictively reject the gleam. I excuse myself by quoting further that "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members". I should not excuse myself. Not if I do not wish to remain a little mind. "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." It is easy, God damn it, but it doesn't pay off.

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