But even with a view to conquering fear, I should not presume to offer to others ideas worked out purely for myself had I not been so invited. I do not affirm that I have conquered fear, but only that in self-defense, I have been obliged to do something in that direction. I take it for granted that what goes in that direction will go all the way if pursued with perseverance and goodwill. Having thus made some simple experiments—chiefly mental—with what to me are effective results, I can hardly refuse to tell what they have been when others are so good as to ask me.
And in making this attempt, I must write from my own experience. No other method would be worthwhile. The mere exposition of a thesis would have little or no value. It is a case in which nothing can be helpful to others which has not been demonstrated for oneself, even though the demonstration be but partial. In writing from my own experience, I must ask the reader’s pardon if I seem egoistic or autobiographical. Without taking oneself too smugly or too seriously one finds it the only way of reproducing the thing that has happened in one’s own life and which one actually knows.
And when I speak above of ideas worked out purely for myself… I do not, of course, mean that these ideas are original to me. All I have done has been to put ideas through the mill of my own mind, coordinating them to suit my own needs. The ideas themselves come from many sources. Some of these sources are, so deep in the past that I could no longer trace them; some are so recent that I know the day and hour when they revealed themselves, like brooks in the way. It would be possible to say to the reader, “I owe this to such and such a teaching, and that to such and such a man”, only that references of the kind would be tedious. I fall back on what Emerson says: “Thought is the property of him who can entertain it, and of him who can adequately place it. A certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts; but, as soon as we have learned what to do with them, they become our own. Thus all originality is relative.” The thoughts that I shall express are my own to the extent that I have lived them—or tried to live them— through the wind that bloweth where it listeth may have brought them to my mind.
Nor do I think for a moment that what I have found helpful to me must necessarily be helpful to everyone. It may be helpful to someone. That is the limit of my hope. It is simple fact that no one can greatly help anyone else. The utmost we can do is to throw out an idea here and there which another may seize, and by which he may help himself. Borrowed help has the awkwardness which Emerson attributes to borrowed thoughts. It is only when a concept has lain for a time in a man’s being, germinated there, and sprung into active life, that it is of much use to him; but by that time it has become his own. The kingdom of heaven must begin within oneself or we shall probably not find it anywhere.
These pages will contain, then, no recipe for the conquest of fear; they will offer, with much misgiving and diffidence, no more than the record of what one individual has done toward conquering it. This record is presented merely for what it is worth. It may be worth nothing. On the other hand, someone may find it worth something, and in that case, all that the writer hopes for will be attained.
PHOTO CREDIT : DYLAN HUNTER
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