“If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

My dad very conscientiously raised me to be a non-conformist. I don’t exactly know why, but he was serious about it. Not a rebel, not a radical, but a person who thinks for herself. His idea was not that I would be more “right” than the next guy, but that I would be my own person. It followed that everyone else would be their own people, too. I didn’t have to be like anyone else, and no one had to be like me. My job as an individual was to evaluate things on their own terms as much as possible and reach an independent conclusion. I know now that no conclusion is completely independent, but I try…

One result of this is that I resist labels. Labels belong on shirts.

10 thoughts on “Shirts

    • What a beautiful voice you have. It’s magical. Excellent talk!!!

      I wrote about the “am” vs “do” thing for this post, and deleted it. That’s a very big point — I was OK with “I am a teacher” because that is part of who I AM. I AM that, even though I don’t do it any more. There are other things I do which I AM; they are elements of my being. I couldn’t be me without them. But much of what we do is not who we ARE.

      Yesterday I went to church because I was asked by my friend to give a talk after ward at her study group. I liked it, but I’m not a Christian, so when communion came up I didn’t join, even though I was asked. I didn’t want to make a mockery out of something that is important to these people by participating and I didn’t want to betray myself.

      Your story about law school resonates with me, too. My mom did not want me to be an artist but how does anyone turn away from who they are? I tried, and, luckily, I am also a teacher. I’m grateful because I could earn a living. But she didn’t think I was a teacher because I had no degree in education — “only” an MA in the field in which I taught. Then I saw there was no way in the world that woman was going to approve of me. It was a liberating moment.

      Labeling is natural, I think, but it should be a theory with which we approach something new, not a fixed and finished conclusion.

      • Your comment is so insightful Martha. There’s nothing as liberating as knowing when to quit trying to gain someone’s approval when they are not willing to give it. Like you rightly said, labeling is a natural thing but we shouldn’t see it as a fixed conclusion. Your compliment is so pleasing and makes my coffee taste sweeter. Thank you 🙂

  1. Lucky you were to be raised that way. My mother always wondered what the neighbors would think. Luckily, for me, I never bought into her ideas.

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