Saturday, December 12

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." Rudyard Kipling

This is one of my favorite Nietzsche quotes. It touches on a couple themes that are very important to me: Counting the cost of truth, and pursuit of individualism regardless of that cost.

Going against the flow makes for a turbulent path. It usually involves lifestyle changes that affect our views on materialism and the level of ‘comfort’ that we enjoy, how much we consume, how ‘fashionable’ we appear, how much we’re ‘getting ahead’. These are relatively easy sacrifices to make in the grand scheme, and usually this kind of cost is fairly obvious before we start on the path. It’s often why we start.

The harder part is the personal cost. If we have friends that are still committed to a more traditional lifestyle, there can be pressure from them and on them regarding friendship with someone that doesn’t conform. We learn who our real friends are. They aren’t necessarily the ones that are like us, but they’ll accept us regardless of where we’re heading just like we will accept them. Other friends may fall or drift away, and that’s sad but unavoidable.

That’s life.

How far we go depends entirely on how many and which sacrifices we’re willing to make. According to Nietzsche, no price is too high to pay that that sense of deep self-knowledge. Not everyone may agree with that. I find that the more I want to possess that sense of self-ownership and pursue it, the more I’m willing to pay, no matter how far I’ve come (not far) or how far I have to go (a long way).

It’s the journey that matters, after all. 

Update: 01.01.11 - Per the comment below, this quote appears to be from an interview with Rudyard Kipling, although it is nearly unanimously attributed to Nietzsche in popular usage.