Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thoreau


Me and Henry David Thoreau, I tell you. That man has written so many poignant one-liners I return to with great frequency. 

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
"Rather than love, than money, than fame-- give me truth."
"An early morning walk is a blessing for a whole day."
"In proportion as man simplifies his life, the laws of the universe become less complex."

There is a lot about this man to which I don't relate. He was a transcendentalist thinker, unmarried, New England-born male in the 1800s. He spent his life uncomplicated by relationships, while I am married with four daughters. He promoted a life free of alcohol and built on a very basic diet, and this lady loves her wine and cheese. He was political, while I am devil's advocate to a fault. But Thoreau was a man after my own heart. 

He knew that instead of spending money, happiness can be found in going into the woods. He lived simply. I also choose to forgo material things that aren't conducive to the life I'm trying to live. I'm not a hard-lined minimalist, but I certainly streamline possessions frequently and don't buy things without assessing their long-term value and necessity. He was an avid yogi, as am I. He valued a few loyal, lifelong friends, and wrote about being uninspired to satiate masses of people with popular thought.


In a nutshell, he has written guides for creating happiness with one's existing surroundings; both in the hearts of friends and family and in the beauty of the natural world. 

He was a 19th-century thinker ahead of his time, and some of his written works continue to be pertinent to me today. In an effort to cull some of the excess noise in my mind and clear out space for more creative reflection, I am making an effort to be selective in what content gains admission. Today, I return to Thoreau. I am digesting theories of his I remember first learning in my environmental history course in university. I am finding new relevance for reflections I glossed over at age 18, appreciating his simplicity. 

I am not living the life of Walden Pond, but in my own wild kingdom here with my family, I am relishing in our life's simple joys. I am planning activities that help us all learn to better appreciate our natural spaces. I am paring down the unnecessary to make more room for the good, the love and the creativity.


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