#Trust30 Day 11 – Imitation is what?

[To find out why I am writing all these #Trust30 posts, click here]

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?” –Fabian Kruse (the Friendly Anarchist)


Emerson’s quote is a pretty absolute statement. By trying to be someone else, you lose yourself, and you might as well no longer be alive. The great ones know this. They are inimitable, with a style that sets them apart. As soon as Elvis opens his mouth to sing, you know who it is.

The concept reminds me of learning to play the guitar. At one time in my life, I aspired to be a musician. I spent hours trying to play songs in the same way that Eric Clapton and others did. I grew frustrated when I couldn’t reproduce the sounds I heard. My fingers moved too slowly, my tone was not clean enough and eventually I gave up trying.

Looking back, I would approach music very differently.

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An Evening of Non-Conformity

I went to Powell’s Books Thursday night to hear Chris Guillebeau speak. For those of you who don’t know, Chris writes a blog called the Art of Non-Conformity (AONC) and recently published a book by the same name. One of his goals in life is to create a movement (yes, a movement) that questions the status quo and encourages people to lead unconventional, remarkable and meaningful lives. Chris lives in Portland (though you might ask, in Portland, where being weird is normal, is it really non-conforming to not conform?), so when I heard that he was coming to speak at Powell’s, the last stop on a 50-state book tour, I figured it would be interesting to hear what he had to say.

I stumbled across the AONC a couple months after starting this blog (the non-conformist title is completely coincidental) and found that he had some ideas about life that I could relate to. One of the things that really attracted me to his writings were his ideas about traveling. Chris has a goal in life to travel to all 192 countries in the world by 2013 and he’s already made it to 149. He seems to understand the joys and new perspectives that traveling brings, something I could really relate to. In addition to the book, he wrote a useful guide about traveling unconventionally that I am still working to put into practice.

Chris Guillebeau

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