Thoreau Thursdays (50): Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

March 29, 2012

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Drummers, Shadle Park H. S. Pipeband, Tieton Highland Days Parade

This week Thoreau’s quote again celebrates individuality, but it is also a call for tolerance.  I think I am a fairly tolerant person, but the bigger challenge for me is to embrace differences.  Surely enjoying the company of people who are different from me will enrich my life in ways I cannot predict.

If I want to continue growing as a person, I must stretch myself — find the opportunities and lessons in the hardships that come my way, invite conversations with people who are not like me, travel to places outside my comfort zone, and use  my imagination to bring me closer to understanding and acceptance of the world I live in.

At the same time, I must find the beat of my own drum, even if it takes me out of step with the conventions of the day.  This is a lot to reflect on!


7 Responses to “Thoreau Thursdays (50): Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer”

  1. Emilia Says:

    Great post! I too have to work on my tolerance, which doesn’t make much sense as I find I don’t fit in amongst some of my peers, so one would think I’d be naturally less judgemental. It’s great that you acknowledge that aspect of yourself and you’re actively looking to change your perspective. Well thought out post. Good luck to you! 🙂

  2. I did not watch the Seahawks beat Green Bay yesterday, and am likely not to watch the Superbowl.

    What I miss if I do wear the ubiquitous Seahawk gear on Fridays around town is the rest of my life. The “12th man” jersey is an existentialist crisis for anyone who cares to think about it.

    People wrote this Thoreau quote in my high school year book 40 years ago. I do not believe I have disappointed my classmates.

  3. B. Says:

    I was looking for the complete quote about the different drummer and came across your blog post. Thank you for writing something that helps me to focus my own chaotic thoughts at this time.
    I am also beginning the process of finding the beat of my own drum, since I am at a moment of change in my life.
    I am listing my passions, and I am going to put those passions together to work out what my ‘thing’ is. The result may be fully formed, or it may need more work to fit me. I imagine something like this will be an ongoing effort.
    I am excited to finally be doing this!

  4. Cliff R. Loriot, PhD Says:

    Regarding tolerance, unfortunately, the most intolerant people I have met are broad-minded people who encounter or discuss narrow-minded people.

    Tolerance includes tolerating intolerant people.

  5. I have always lived my life this way. I’ve never gone along with what the crowd does. I have always flexed my individuality muscles all my life and intend to do so until my untimely death. I will always respect those who are different because make life interesting. If we didn’t have those individuals life would be so deadly dull. Holly Dressler.

    • Cliff Loriot Says:

      Hi, Holly.

      If you have ever read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” you know that after the animals took over the farm and ran the farmer off, they put up a sign saying, “All animals are created equal.”

      But the horses noticed after a couple of days that the pigs were starting to boss the other animals around. So they protested.

      The next morning, the sign read, “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

      Three words in your post reminded me of my version of this saying: individual[ity], respect, and different. Here is my version of the pigs’ change in the wording of the sign:

      “While all people are created equal, and should be treated with respect, we are also all created as individuals–which means we are all different. Therefore, we can say that ‘all human beings are created different, but some of us are more different than others.'”

      I think I fit into that category, that is, of being “more different than others.” To me, that’s the essence of “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”

      Cliff R. Loriot, PhD

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