Louisa May Alcott is featured on the Google Doodle today and as a writer I’m tickled to celebrate her today. I can only imagine what it was like to grow up in her time 184 years ago during the time of other great writers and advocates such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who authored many essays that have influenced so many, as well and the author of one of my favorite quotes, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”, and he was a good friend to Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlett Letter, as well as Margaret Fuller who was a journalist, critic and women’s right advocate and Henry David Thoreau one of her earliest teachers, who influenced Martin Luther King Jr., Leo Tolstoy, and Mahatma Gandhi. She was fortunate to have these four as her close family friends.
Louisa began her writing as an outlet for her emotional well being and a platform for her creativity to escape her plight of life. The poverty in her family made it necessary for her to work at an early age, only the youngest in her family was able to attend public school, and I can imagine the viewpoints and teachings of her father also brought additional questions about life and the freedom to challenge the status quo.
Her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was known to be controversial in his time with his vegan diet, and a major figure of transcendentalism along with Emerson. It would seem he was ahead of his time. He also founded the first adult education school in the United States. I’m sure her father was a big influence to Louisa’s quote, “Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors!”
Of the many jobs she held to help support the family writing is the one that became her passion. Louisa’s first published book titled Flower Fables, a collection of tales, was originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. So much of what she did was influenced by her surroundings, teaching, and exposure in fact Little Women was influenced by her own life and her three sisters, and their life at home in their home called the Orchard House.
She is an example of the saying, “We become the company we keep”. Who are you becoming today? Who and what is the company you keep? I occasionally ask myself this question because I have a burning drive inside to act and be that which sits at the core of my existing. I’m not always clear of what it wants me to do but I am clear it wants me to do. Unlike in Louisa’s time, we have the option to choose our influences from the comfort our our home with the internet and social media and during this time there is so much change and birth of the unknown it is important that we be mindful of our influences.
If you have a burning inside of you or if you long to have one. Be intentional about what you read and research, the company you keep, and what you say. Intentionally chose those things you would like to model. You don’t have to have a burning inside. You can decide what you want and then just follow it and shape your world to influence others.
That is the beauty of life. We can choose and later if you decide you want something else. Feel free to choose that too. What I have found over this 1/2 century of my life that each experience has molded me to who I am today. I didn’t intentionally choose my path I believe it chose me (the burning) and now I have the opportunity to follow it through with my intentions.
Louisa’s later influence of the Declaration of Sentiments writing at the first women’s right convention, by Seneca Fall Convention, lead her to be the first woman in Concord, Massachusetts to register to vote. I’m sure other influences added to who she was and carried over to her writings, such as her family serving as a safe house for the Underground Railroad.
Today Louisa is buried on a hillside of Author’s Role near Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where her mother and father are buried along with many notables, and I will add her to my company of folks I hang out with. This week she will join the company of Earnest Hemingway’s book A Movable Feast, A Course in Miracles, The Arabian Knights, my daily journaling, Nestle my cat, Eric my guy, my favorite podcasts and of course my fav of bloggers. What company are you keeping this week and how are they influencing you?
Happy Birthday Louisa! We celebrate you today!
Don’t Try – Just Do
K.L. de Ville