Many of us have heard the wonderful story told by the great author, Henry David Thoreau, as he escapes the distractions of the city in search of a life more fulfilling. He travels to the rural Walden Pond and settles to begin a journey of life completely independent of others. In this solitude, Thoreau is able to contemplate everything from economics to human warfare.
What inspires me most is WHY Thoreau seeks out this experience.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
Thoreau’s cause is noble and extravagant. So much so that many of us cannot imagine doing it ourselves. The stresses of life make it look so desirable. The common phrase “I need a vacation” is heard all too often. It is easy to get caught up as Thoreau did, in the business of life. It is easy to forget the simple pleasures that make life worth living. It is easy to get so fed up that we feel like we need to take a break just to regain our sanity. While I like the courage Thoreau showed in his “Walden” experience, many of us do not have the same literal opportunity to physically and geographically escape the distractions of life. True courage is finding that same solitude and independence even amidst our career, family, and social duties. We can find our own, figurative “Walden”.
Here are some pointers:
Be grateful for the small everyday things.
Learn about yourself and what you want to do with your life
Love someone and allow someone to love you
Work hard for the things that are most important to you
Keep a journal of your thoughts, impressions, feelings, gratitudes, and experiences
Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” What a shameful thought. It’s time for us to focus on the revitalization of the endangered idea of living.