Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Writing from Experience.

Don Enss

            I enjoy some aspects of Romanticism, of convening with nature and writing poetry but when I read in Gros how he and Thoreau and perhaps others say one should only write what they have lived and not write a book based on other books, I question that.

None of us are self-made. It may be a romantic idea, but the truth is at birth and for several years we needed someone to take care of us.  We simply didn’t pop out from our mother’s uterus ready to go. We needed someone to teach us how to survive and then teach us how to speak, read, and write to express what we think and feel. Teachers are undervalued because we have forgotten that they are the foundation on what we become.

Gros has written a book on walking, but he also read Thoreau’s books Walking and Walden that gave him Thoreau’s perspective on life and walking. What if Thoreau had been born in the slums of Rio and his only walking was to find food in the dump, his perspective on walking might be different?

For me, romanticism grounded in realism makes for a more complete person. I acknowledge my debt to those in the past who have contributed to my being who I am today and hope that what I can share may be of help to others in being whom they are or will become. But I think that it is a bit egoistical and egotistical to believe that the world revolves around me and that I am who I am without having had lots of help along the way.


  1. You're right of course, Don. None of us is a tabula rasa, none of us has the luxury of relying strictly on our own firsthand experience, and no author can plausibly pretend not to have been influenced by other sources. But, there's still value in recognizing the importance of one's own experience as a counterweight to all the others' that threaten to usurp it. Originality and tradition in creative balance: that's what we're all going for.

  2. I agree also. No human being has existed throughout the entire history of humankind without some for of assistance from another. Romanticism grounded in realism may also show that there are times that one has faced extreme adversity and conquered those odds. Perhaps they hadn't faced assistance but in fact turmoil from others. Stories like Annie, Nelson Mandela, Ann Frank and others are great illustrations of this. Perhaps these stories make romanticism a little bit more, romantic. Most cases of genius and triumph are from those who struggled and fought to get were they are at. To play devil's advocate, perhaps it isn't egotistical, maybe it is a sense of pride and trust in oneself because their circumstances forced them to only trust themselves. That idea is romantic.