American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide

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  Pages from Tiffany's Journal

January 24, 2002
"The Circle of My Life"

Margaret Fuller was once noted as wearing her circle of friends as a necklace of diamonds about her neck. She was a person of strength and eloquent compassion and accurate judgment to say the least, and as she preached, "speak the best word that is in thee," I seem to feel an utmost strange parallel between her life’s philosophy and mine. My own life has a similar connection to this idea of building sacred friendships with which to share God’s path. Growing up, my grandmother and mother instilled in me the value of secure relationships and the honest word and the atrocity of "convenient acquaintances." They proclaimed with clear reverence that, in life, I could in time count my true friends on one hand. So, as it appears some years later, their declaration has become accurate. I have become that woman, just as Margaret Fuller was, who wears people as diamonds, each placed in a strategic location, at all times close to her. Although I cannot foster the idea of a fully beaded or stone set necklace at the present time, the gems that my life does contain continue to sparkle with the passage of time. At an earlier age, I could not aspire to the idea of limiting or maintaining only a few relationships, but I now comprehend that, on the journey each of us travel, there are particular endeavors that only certain "critics" may review. Fuller presents, in "A Short Essay on


Above: Tiffany Lawrence (photo by Linda Tate).


  Critics," "the critic is beneath the maker, but is his needed friend." I am honored to be on lists for review, and as I fuse to my "best word" so too are my true gems proud to give their marks. Starting to build upon this true key to life, am I, with only half of a memento to wear. I know in time that some gems will diminish in sparkle and some will be lost and replaced, but it won’t be the stones I will remember in the long run. I will never forget the lessons and instances shared and the various times the stones fit together to form the grand, yet still advancing necklace I call life. Margaret Fuller, thank you for adding some shine.

 

January 31, 2002
"Standing Strong"

Every generation from the beginning of time has with stood the ever-so-increasing urbanization that America now offers, but as the year 2000 has passed it seems to be causing a greater stress on American culture as a whole. As individuals become progressively more involved in the commotion of daily events, they forget the values that were once part of the family unit of our nation. One may now want to pay closer attention to the message that Bronson Alcott, writer of "Orphic Sayings" first asserted, while speaking of vocation: "Engage in nothing that cripples or degrades you." Undoubtedly American society has succumbed to other ideals. Adults today lack interest in youth and their development of mind and body. Humans abuse their bodies with substances that do not further higher learning or even natural living. Is our society weak or uneducated? Are we ignorant to this fact of harming our bodies and the earth? Has this ideal changed over the passage of time? Alcott says, "Your influence on others is commensurate with the strength that you have found in yourself." If he is accurate, then how can leaders in this world lead? How can anyone function to the highest level of achievement, or are they functioning at all? In life, that which you give you still possess, and the giving but increases the value of that possession. Still, if nothing is of value, what will we be giving future generations? Humans need to choose vocations carefully and learn to believe in the strength that our free country possesses. We were built on dedication to a cause, the right of freedom, and now we need to adjust, as more urbanization occurs, to build strength in ourselves, a sense of pride every American should hold. Bronson Alcott and his Orphic Sayings should be instilled in all and become the foreground for life’s many lessons. For each of us has the choice to make the best better.


 

March 27, 2002
"Nature’s Giants"

Mountains of any kind of range or region are some of the most dynamic and magnificent creations on earth. There is something about the size, color, and structural shape that calls to the soul and invites adventure, success, tranquility, and beauty into the hearts of onlookers and nature lovers. Frequently reminded am I of these impressions from the glorious sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains that border areas of my home state of wild, wonderful West Virginia. Clarence King, in his excerpt from Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, declares his compassion for places such as these. These splendid ranges encompass vegetation and animal life so rich and plentiful, that to a spectator’s eye, one stretch can seem endless. Although each expanse differs from the next, just as the Sierra contrasts with the Blue Ridge, the skylines of all are lined with trees producing spans of vibrant shades that are cast upon the canvas of the sky to create picturesque settings. However, with every change of season, the overcast is adjusted and can appear almost opposite on the color wheel. The impression, moreover, lasts in the minds of humans longer than the image’s shade. The mountains drip with heritage of more ancient times, and sounds ring as each individual has his own rendition of the tales and alterations that have taken place in these same hills. King elaborates, "there are but few points in America where such extremes of physical condition meet," and I am reminded of the rugged diversity the mountainous regions of West Virginia offer. Still, as disheartening as it may be, the clarity of these distinct figures is becoming increasingly hazy as our mountains are being stripped to barren earth. No matter the size of destruction, these structural giants will forever be housed in the "Mountain State." As King painted mental illustrations of the Sierra, so too will surreal memories of the Blue Ridge be embedded in the minds of generations to come. For me, just as Clarence King thought about the Sierra, the beauty and tranquility are but the allure, but the challenge lies somewhere in the adventure and success of West Virginia’s mountains and its peoples.


  Tiffany Lawrence is a business administration major at Shepherd College.

"American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide" was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit "About This Site." © 2003 Linda Tate.