I saw these two quotes appear nearly side by side today from two different sources unbeknownst to each other.
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
"You are born weak and die weak, what you are in between those two periods of time is up to you."
The first quote was attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson and came from a composer/musician. It’s also often attributed to Henry David Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Morrow, and Albert Jay Nock. It appears though that it most likely belonged to a somewhat questionable securities trader name Henry S. Haskins.The quote first appears in the book “Meditations in Wall Street” which was initially a work of an unnamed writer, published by William Morrow with introduction by Nock, hence their early credits. The Library of Congress now attributes Henry Stanley Haskins as the author.
The second quote, unattributed, was posted by a youthful cousin of mine who is into bodybuilding. As far as I can tell the second quote lives a happy, unaltered and average life as a motivational blurb reposted across weightlifting forums, fitness blogs, and social media platforms.
Now, I don’t think I’m going too far afield by guessing that our Transcendentalist version and our "little mouse" version share some moral and muscular fiber. Though I gave a little effort in tracking the connection I lost interest in where, when or by whom the phrase was transmuted. I mostly enjoy the image of Emerson, Thoreau and Holmes, hanging out in their den and chewing the fat about their Harvard days, doing continental lifts and Saxon side bends while Henry Haskins, from the future, stands by scolding them into doing one more rep, shouting “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us, you maggots!!!” And then from the musty couch barely visible in the shadowy corner Hemingway lights a cigar, scrapes a clod of dried dirt off his boot with the edge of the Chippendale coffee table and without looking up mutters “Weak."