Read to be better, but write to be great.
When did our attitude on intelligence shift so significantly? We used to judge others and how they impacted the world based upon their original ideas. Now it seems that we dub people “smart” based upon how well they regurgitate brainiac quotes dreamed up by mold-breakers like Descartes or Socrates.
When did we stop thinking for ourselves and become the unpaid marketers for long dead philosophers?
But I plead guilty to this shallow conviction of plagiarism. When I stand in the damp shadows after a mild mid-afternoon rain listening to excited chatter of the finches Albert Einstein’s quote comes to mind.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Suddenly I feel part of the in-crowd; the elite crew of masterminds that seem to have an answer, or a Hallmark card, for every situation. But by extracting one sentence memorized out of thousands have I relinquished the power of my own thoughts? Have I lost out on discovering the inner workings of the universe by complacently quoting others?
Maybe mulling over those million words we choked on only to finally swallow during late nights of reading we increase our own brainpower. Do the words of the long dead jog the creativity of our own? I know that many “un nuit blanche” have come and passed in my life when I can’t put down that book. At 2:58am those characters are my best friends, my confidants and no one understands me more than they do. And then, somewhere in between my vision blurring and drool, I get the “aha!” moment that we all (I hope) have experienced at least once in our lives. Usually my mental light bulb involves fireworks and breaking glass, but nonetheless it’s a moment where I realize my own potential. For a millisecond frustration and self-doubt fall away silently and I remember how amazing and brilliant I am, and know, without a shred of doubt, that I can be a better writer. That I’m an advanced thinker and could converse with those long dead. Sleep finally sweeps the remnants of my excited state under an exhausted rug, but I wake up driven to be individual… Driven to succeed, driven to surpass…
So I guess next time I hear someone spouting an over used ancient inapplicable quote I’ll think of Oscar Wilde, who said it the best. “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”