I’ve spent years having imaginary conversations with extraordinary people in an effort to learn their secrets. From rapper Lil’ Wayne, I learned how to churn words until they revealed their rhythm. Ralph Emerson, in contrast, taught me the ways of wisdom, and how to write indifferent to reception. Soren Kierkegaard reinforced this lesson. From Shakespeare I learned that brilliance has no bounds. His plays to me are more like plows, pushing me to hope and herald authentically though in disgrace with fortune circumstances find me.
From Michel Montaigne I learned the value of sincerity and the art of the sentence. Each encounter with him (and Schopenhauer) increased my confidence. From MLK, Jr. I gained strength to love, learning to be devoted despite the motives of malefactors. If, however, it weren’t for Fredrich Nietzsche indifference would have defeated me. Yet Nietzsche encouraged me to become who I am despite being slammed by circumstances. In this regard, Michael Jackson and Jordan also served.
I’ve never seen anyone do what they did with so much verve. Who would have thought that a ball and a beat combined with backward moving feet could accomplish so much and inspire so many. Of course their success (and privilege) wouldn’t surprise Paul Tillich, because he recognized that anything can become an object of ultimate concern if we commit to it and are willing to learn. Thanks, moreover, to William James many of my anxieties were tamed. His Principles of Psychology eased my fears of mediocrity and of being overlooked, especially when time was inclined to stream slowly. James’ wisdom comforted and helped to grow me.
There are also other extraordinary people by whom I have been instructed, Herman Keyserling included, as well as those whose names I have omitted (Blaise Pascal for example). Thanks to these I have been able to weave my own literary web. In time, like them, maybe I too can help someone else find his way, hers too, thanks to the shrew, Mary Wollstonecraft. Who’s teaching you along your path?