It never ceases to amaze me how much society can make a brilliant man look average. Lately I've gotten on a kick of reviewing quotes from famous authors. It started with Oscar Wilde; the man is highly quotable and I'd heard many of his more boring quotes before (see previous entry on An Ideal Husband) but I read more of his lesser known quotes and was amazed! Where did this witty insightful man come from, and why weren't these quotes the ones he was known for? Tonight, I discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson - not the lame Ralph Waldo Emerson who I often confused with Henry David Thoreau, but a vibrant, intelligent man who was a great thinker and reluctant activist. I don't agree with his views on charity, but many of his quotes are inspiring.
Find someone who inspires you. Then find who inspired them. I suspect there is a very long trail of wisdom that lies mostly ignored for the masses, or perhaps is just unacknowledged.