A man can get discouraged many times but he is not a failure until he begins to blame somebody else and stops trying.

– John Burroughs

In this life, I’ve had numerous times where discouragement supplanted all thoughts of trudging forward, and I found myself wallowing in the failure of who I thought I was.

I did blame others in those dark moments. I wanted someone else to take responsibility for my life, for who I was, for the possibility of me. I wanted the world to know how wrong it was for a girl like myself to have such a hard go of it.

I wanted others to feel sorry for me because I believed they would fix what was broken in me—that is, if they truly loved me.

Little did I know that what was “broken” in me needed mending from the inside, and the inside was a place no one else could go except me.

When I take responsibility for my own life and actions, my life is transformed from a prison that I endure to an open meadow where I am free.


John Burroughs was born in Roxbury, New York, on April 3, 1837, and left this world on March 29, 1921. He was a nature essayist and a naturalist and wrote essays for the Atlantic Monthly. Hurd & Houghton published his first collection of essays, Wake-Robin. He was friends with Walt Whitman. Whitman encouraged him “to develop his nature writing as well as his philosophical and literary essays.” Here are a few of his pieces: Winter Sunshine, Ways of Nature, Far and Near, Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person, Whitman: A Study, and Under the Apple Trees.

John Burroughs


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