Emersonian Person The most Emersonian person that I have ever known would be with out a doubt be Frederick Jones. I spent two summers working with this man on the Linville River for the Kawana fishing club. In ÒSelf RelianceÓ Emerson writes ÒYour genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothingÓ. This is clearly a call for individuality in men. Though Frederick has probably never read or even heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson, his way of life is very much in line with what Emerson claims will be the only true way to inner peace. Frederick is very much a mystery to the people of Linville, and except for those who know him best, he is not very well liked.
He quit school after the eight grade, yet he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever known. Like Emerson, Frederick believes that all he needs to know and understand is with in himself. He claims to have no regret for quitting school. His argument is that once he learned to read and write, what he did with those skills should be at his discretion. Frederick is a wealthy man, but very few people know to what extent.
His beat up Ford truck and old work cloths suggest nothing more that a simple working man. In fact this is exactly what he is. Frederick has a reputation for having little to say except for when the issue concerns him, but he is also know for speaking his mind and standing up for himself regardless of the consequence. Like most people he loathes taxes, but it is not so much the money that bothers him as it is what he sees to be criminal waste of his money. His feelings on giving money to the poor are much the same as EmersonÕs: Ò..
do not tell as a good man did today of my obligation to put all good men into good situations. Are they my poor?Ó(553) If it were up to Frederick, there would not be a dime of him money spent on welfare. I used to wonder why a man in his financial situation would subject himself to such a life of labor. I finally asked him on one of the hottest days of the summer while were chain sawing a trail through a Rhododendrem jungle. All he said was Òit keeps me aliveÓ.
It was only then that I began to see what that river means to him. Having lost his family to a car accident, that seven mile stretch of river is his only source peace. Later in that summer while we were walking down the river bank he said ÒOut here things are real. These trout, these mountains, this river-there is no bull *censored*, and that is one thing I hate-bull *censored*Ó. Frederick is a man who depends on no one, and expects nothing.
He says what he feels, and he makes no apology when he offends. Emerson states Òmy life is not an apology, but a lifeÓ (553) This is precisely how Frederick lives, and it is for this reason that he is not loved by the masses. In his defense, Frederick is genuine. He is a man that can be taken at face value, and people always know where they stand with him. It is not that Frederick trys to hurt or belittle people, but he has a reputation for calling situations as he sees them. He once told me Òthe truth is often a lot more painful than a lie, but life is to short for liesÓ. Most would agree that tact is not his strong point, but having spent time with him all I can honestly say it is not his strong point because it is not important to him.
For Frederick integrity is the most important thing a man can have. In the time that I spent with him I never heard him do or say anything to suggest that he is not perfectly content with himself. Emerson writes Òevery great man is uniqueÓ(565) With consistency that I have seen from no other man, Frederick believes in himself, and that truly is unique. He is not a man that judges otherÕs opinions as wrong, simply different. EmersonÕs position that ÒNo law can be sacred to me but that of my natureÓ(552) is exactly the way Frederick lives his life. He is known for holding on to his principles regardless of outside opinion.
Because of the life he has made for himself, he answers to no man and there are few people who do not respect him for that. This goes right along with the Emerson’s belief that ÒIt is only as a man puts off from himself all external support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail.Ó If I have ever known a man that stands alone, it is Frederick Jones. According to Emerson: He who knows that the power is in the soul, that he is weak only because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles, just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head. (567) When I think of Frederick Jones, I think of a man with a great deal of self confidence, and an untarnished sense of self-satisfaction. He is a man who knows who he is and what he stands for. His way of life is what Emerson claims to be the only way to inner peace. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself, nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.(567) Whether he knows it or not, Frederick JonesÕ life more resembles Emerson’s philosophy more than other man that I have ever known.