Listen to episode 248 of the Inspirational Living podcast: A Golden Age of Change | The Art of Being Human. Edited and adapted from the essay On Being Human by Woodrow Wilson.
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Today’s reading is a continuation of Tuesday’s reading, which was edited and adapted from the essay “On Being Human” by Woodrow Wilson, published in 1897.
I have talked with you about the importance of individuality, and being genuine — which leads us now to the question, “How?” By what means is this self-liberation to be effected — this emancipation from affectation and the bondage of being like other people? Is it open to us to choose to be genuine?
I see nothing insurmountable in the way, except for those who are hopelessly lacking in a sense of humor. It depends upon the range and scale of your observation, whether you can strike the balance of genuineness or not. If you live in a small and petty world, you will be subject to its standards; but if you live in a large world, you will see that standards are innumerable — some old, some new, some made by the noble-minded and made to last, some made by the weak-minded and destined to perish, some lasting from age to age, some only from day to day — and that a choice must be made among them.
It is then that your sense of humor will assist you. You are, you will perceive, upon a long journey, and it will seem to you ridiculous to change your life and discipline your instincts to conform with the usages of a single inn by the way. You will distinguish the essentials from the accidents, and deem the accidents something meant for your amusement.
The strongest natures do not need to wait for these slow lessons of observation: their sheer vigor makes it impossible for them to conform to fashion, or care for times and seasons. But the rest of us must cultivate knowledge of the world at large, reaching a comparative point of view, before we can become with steady confidence our own masters and pilots.