On learning to stand up straight

I generally have a tendency to think about things too much, and to be too cautious in my decision making. I have, at times, passed up opportunities because of too much risk, or so I thought. In the area of music, which is my profession, this happens a lot. I shy away from projects with indefinite outcomes.

Today, however, I may have turned a corner. During my late night practice session, something clicked in me, and I caught myself being bold, taking the initiative, in a certain way. We have such a tendency to walk around with “the look of the hunted,” as Richard Weaver said, unsure of ourselves, and asking, “Is this right?” or, “What will others think?” I have been plagued by this kind of stupidity for years.

With boldness, however, comes achievement. I got more work done tonight than I’ve gotten done in days. I was operating with less sleep and later in the day, but there it is. The thought occurred to me that our ability to meet our expectations depends upon the posture we take. If we crouch down like the hunted, we will be eaten alive. If we stand up straight and make bold to do something, we have no boundaries.

The first posture is one of safety, the second is one of liberty. Most people do not want to be free, they want to be safe, said Mencken. But only the free will be able to do anything that’s worth a damn. Sure, if things go badly, one tumbles hard, but it sure beats being a cog in the wheel of the “Mediocracy,” doesn’t it?

All of this would seem to advise us to avoid ordinary people. If we spend our time with the fearful and the unremarkable, we too will be unremarkable. It is far better to fill our contact lists with the names of the extraordinary, for the extraordinary man brings out the good qualities of those around him.

F.A. Hayek once remarked that societies which suffer an onerous government are often less virtuous than freer societies. It’s probably true as well that freer societies have more excellent men in them. Indeed, liberty encourages boldness, and vice versa, and liberty also encourages harmony amongst men. And so, if we are free, we can sing along with the Psalmist, Ecce quam bonum, et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum!


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