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How experience shapes who we are

             “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
             How can we think through unshielded eyes? Whether it is what you see, what you say or what you hear, behind your eyes, voice and ears is your mind. A requirement for everyday life, our minds give us insight, thought and opinion, but the longer we live the further we seem to wander in a different direction. Ralph Waldo Emerson said a man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bard and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his (19). Famous writers, journalists, news reporters, political figures and philosophers are just a few of the many people who actually take their thoughts as genius. These men and women are the same as everyone else, only they have decided to use the voice given to them. Their powerful words give us a new inspiration that will guide our lives, but their words tend to replace our own, no matter how similar the two seem to be.
             Walker Percy experienced life and death nearly one hundred years apart from Emerson. Perhaps Percy read Emerson; perhaps he influenced his opinions and format. Percy saw what Emerson had envisioned and he took down to a less personal, internal level. Percy’s essay expressed the idea of the bias formed in life’s experiences. He pointed out, to put it bluntly: A student who has the desire to get at a dogfish or a Shakespeare sonnet may have the greatest difficulty in salvaging the creature itself from the educational package in which it is presented (417). The teacher sets the guidelines, the student fulfills them and they graduate on to the next best thing. Twenty years later, that dogfish means absolutely nothing to the student, maybe the smell still makes them nauseated, but the guidelines limited them in their understanding of what way laid out in front of them during the experience.