I remember when I first read Self-Reliance. I was about 25. I read it because I had seen a quote from it and wanted to know what Emerson meant by the quote. So I dove in. I remember that it took longer than usual to read it, because I kept re-reading sections. I remember feeling like he was talking TO me. It was unlike any reading experience I had ever had. He was speaking to my life in such a profound way that it felt like he had written the book just for me. It blew my mind. The same thing happened when I read Man's Search for Meaning. Souls of Black Folk was the same way. These books transformed me. They opened me up to a different level of thinking. I thought differently about myself, and about life in general, because of these books. After I read them, I felt like I needed to give this new found knowledge to everyone I knew. I would tell anyone who would listen that they needed these books. To this day, if anyone asks, I hand them my copy of Souls of Black Folk. I have encouraged more than a few clients and friends to read Man's Search for Meaning. There are gifts within these texts that I can't imagine giving any other way.
The other day, one of my colleagues asked me if I would be okay with her suggesting my book to some of her clients. I was, of course, honored. Still, I didn't give it much thought. Today I saw a young man quote me in his facebook status. He's not someone I know well enough to think he would put the quote up in order to flatter me or help promote the book. As best as I can tell, he was simply moved by my words and felt the need to share them. At that moment, it hit me. On some small level, I had been for him what Emerson was for me.
Make no mistake. I don't fancy myself a philosopher in that classic sense. I'm not an eloquent writer. I'm no Emerson. No Frankl. No Dubois. But then, that doesn't matter, does it? Truth comes from wherever one is willing to find it. Because I wrote my story in such a simple and matter of fact way, there are truths I received from all of those philosophers that I am able to pass along to a demographic of people that would never dream of reading the books I read. So, I am able to translate. Perhaps it is that translation that is the greatest gift of what I've written. My story is not all that unique. The lessons I learned are not new. But the simplistic way in which I see my world allowed me to pull something very positive out of what seems, to most, like a very negative period of time. That is as close to a philosophy as I suppose I'll ever get. I'm glad it worked for someone.