But we have aimed at a swift and petty benefit, to suck a sudden sweetness.In a sentiment that John Steinbeck would come to echo a century later in the context of love, writing to his teenage son that “the main thing is not to hurry [for] nothing good gets away,” Emerson argues that to be impatient in friendship is to mistrust the depth of the relationship and to deny the resilience and immutability of the friend’s affections: Our impatience is thus sharply rebuked.
How many we see in the street, or sit with in church, whom, though silently, we warmly rejoice to be with! The scholar sits down to write, and all his years of meditation do not furnish him with one good thought or happy expression; but it is necessary to write a letter to a friend, and, forthwith, troops of gentle thoughts invest themselves, on every hand, with chosen words.
What is so delicious as a just and firm encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling?
This delicate dance has been examined by thinkers from Aristotle to Francis Bacon to Thoreau, but none more thoughtfully than by Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803–April 27, 1882).
In an essay on the subject, found in his altogether soul-expanding We have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken.
How beautiful, on their approach to this beating heart, the steps and forms of the gifted and the true!
The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is metamorphosed; there is no winter, and no night; all tragedies, all ennuis vanish; all duties even; nothing fills the proceeding eternity but the forms all radiant of beloved persons.Barring all the selfishness that chills like east winds the world, the whole human family is bathed with an element of love like a fine ether. from the highest degree of passionate love, to the lowest degree of good will, they make the sweetness of life.How many persons we meet in houses, whom we scarcely speak to, whom yet we honor, and who honor us! Our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection.Love, which is the essence of God, is not for levity, but for the total worth of man.Let us not have this childish luxury in our regards, but the austerest worth; let us approach our friend with an audacious trust in the truth of his heart, in the breadth, impossible to be overturned, of his foundations.Bashfulness and apathy are a tough husk in which a delicate organization is protected from premature ripening.It would be lost if it knew itself before any of the best souls were yet ripe enough to know and own it.The instinct of affection revives the hope of union with our mates, and the returning sense of insulation recalls us from the chase.Thus every man passes his life in the search after friendship, and if he should record his true sentiment, he might write a letter like this, to each new candidate for his love: Dear Friend:— If I was sure of thee, sure of thy capacity, sure to match my mood with thine, I should never think again of trifles, in relation to thy comings and goings.Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE.And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one.