Ralph Waldo Emerson and ELO

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.

My calendar is one of the talismans of my writing life. I think it began in 2012—on a weekend away in late 2011, perusing a bookstore on Florida’s Gulf Coast, I found a mini-monthly calendar with some cool inspirational quotes. This is just what I need! I thought. I hung it up on the wardrobe that sits to the left of my desk, and have spent much time (perhaps too much time) pondering the quote that hangs there, anytime I turn my attention from my screen. Little did I know that purchase would beget an annual mini-panic that strikes about mid-December. I need a new calendar!

Up to now, bookstores have been my saving grace. It’s there that I can usually find something that strikes the right note for the year ahead. But alas, bookstores came up short this year. So I dared to turn to the bookstore’s enemy, the bane of traditional publishers, Amazon. Could it provide what I sought? Indeed, an Amazon search kicked me out to Calendars.com, a vast repository of printed calendars of all shapes and sizes and inspirational intents.

I’ve been pleased with my Calendars.com purchase for 2017. It’s called “First We Dream.” January was some pink and blue clouds, a wheat field, and a quote from William Blake: “No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.” February was rocks on a seashore and Goethe: “Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”

And March brought me Ralph Waldo Emerson and the quote that opened this post. And that got me thinking. About transcendentalism and ELO. Yes, ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. The English rock band most closely affiliated with Jeff Lynne, that hit its heyday in the ‘70s.

But first, transcendentalism. I was first introduced to the philosophy my junior year in high school, in my American Literature class. I was immediately drawn to it—the whole idea that an innate divinity unifies all creation totally jived with how I’d been raised, and on a deeper level, it resonated with some kind of intuitive sense in my gut.

It spurred a deeper dive into Emerson’s writings, but I remember getting bogged down pretty quickly. I recall dense prose. Perhaps it’s worth taking a look with more aged eyes, but being perennially short on time, I’ll settle for the quote that headlines March 2017.

The timing is particularly apropos. I’m in the trenches of trying to make the life I’ve always dreamed for myself: being a writer who can make a living off writing. Finishing my second novel is my current highest priority in that quest. And it all feels like a pretty big dare.

So it’s nice to have Ralph Waldo Emerson up there, urging me on. It’s kind of like having an old friend show up at mile 20 of a marathon, shouting out my name and general encouragement.

And where does ELO fit into all of this? It’s pretty simple. I’ve been an ELO fan longer than I’ve been a fan of transcendentalism. All this talk about dreams—from Emerson, and the 2017 calendar writ large—has planted ELO’s “Hold On Tight” firmly in my head. The song was released in 1981, and the opening lyrics might jog the memories of those of you who remember 1981:

Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream
When you see your ship go sailing
When you feel your heart is breaking
Hold on tight to your dream

More inspiration to keep me going in these last few miles.

6 thoughts on “Ralph Waldo Emerson and ELO

  1. Enjoyed this, Anne.And our lunch last week-let’s keep it going occasionally… Nice front page picture story on the abbey in today’s T.P.- first anniv. of flood….hope it helps the cause. Looking forward to my visit Thur and Fri. nights…..always renewing….and I always visit your folks’ graves ( and check on mine….). HAPPY ST  PAT, ST JOE-AND LENT! Let’s keep on dreaming….. db 

    Liked by 1 person

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