a man in reserve
...Thoreau's Journal: 18-Dec-1841

Some men make their due impression upon their generation, because a petty occasion is enough to call forth all their energies; but are there not others who would rise to much higher levels, whom the world has never provoked to make the effort? I believe there are men now living who have never opened their mouths in a public assembly, in whom nevertheless there is such a well of eloquence that the appetite of any age could never exhaust it; who pine for an occasion worthy of them, and will pine till they are dead; who can admire, as well as the rest, at the flowing speech of the orator, but do not yet miss the thunder and lightning and visible sympathy of the elements which would garnish their own utterance.

If in any strait I see a man fluttered and his ballast gone, then I lose all hope of him, he is undone; but if he reposes still, though he do nothing else worthy of him, if he is still a man in reserve, then is there everything to hope of him. The age may well go pine itself that it cannot put to use this gift of the gods. He lives on, still unconcerned, not needing to be used. The greatest occasion will be the slowest to come.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Sometimes he writes things that make my mind flip around and see things in a whole new way. He expresses thoughts that make me realize there are kindred spirits out there, and I feel less isolated. Thanks for this blog!

Harry said...

Given today's leaders, we have to hope that there are still some out there somewhere who can rise higher. I hope Thoreau is correct.

michael jameson said...

every man has his moment and they may be personal or they may be remembered by all, the rest lie in wait for their time,then there are those who do not care.

Quinton Blue said...

This country could use a man or woman in reserve who can step up. We've had nothing but hollow men and idiots for some time.