The Scarlet P

I ran across this Emerson quote recently: “Do the duty of the day.” I’ve been having some motivation issues lately, and this quote stuck in my head. I’ve been taking it to mean something along the lines of “do your work, don’t procrastinate, focus.”

I spent some time this morning learning a bit more of the context of this quote. It seems that Emerson meant it much more philosophically — in the context of describing some of the failings of the abolition movement, he wrote in his journal:

Do the duty of the day. Just now the supreme duty of all thinking men is to assert freedom. Go where it is threatened, & say “I am for it, & do not wish to live in the world a moment longer than it exists.”

Which is interesting. However, my current need for a mantra of sorts to focus my energies means I will continue to rely on my own out-of-context interpretation of the quote.

All of which leads me to the following: I spent an hour this morning procrastinating by investigating the origin of a quotation I have latched on to to help me avoid procrastination. Sigh. And we won’t speak of how this blog entry has compounded my sin.

Posted on December 6th, 2007 by Katxena