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. – Henry David Thoreau
It doesn’t really matter whether you live by the woods, in the woods, by the sea, or in the desert, as long as the choice is deliberate and are able to fully embrace your authentic self. Find your woods and live deliberately, as Thoreau says.
We waste far too much doing what we are told, limiting our words to a prescribed set of rules, and containing our thoughts to someone else’s standard of correctness. I’m so tired of this.
Henry David Thoreau’ work is something I struggled with in my youth when forced to read it. It was only much later that I understood why. Thoreau is wasted on the youth, for he speaks to the soul that has acquired life experience and the wisdom of making life-changing mistakes. No 17-year old desperate to break out and discover the world can ever make sense of this solitary musing that speaks of minimalist lifestyle and surrendering the artificial trimmings that money can buy. I myself took 30 years after High School to find Walden palatable, and another ten years to appreciate the idea of solitary deliberateness, which, mind you, is not the same as deliberate solitude.
The older I got and the more overwhelmed by life’s obligations and deadlines, the scarier it was to make a mistake or be unable to keep up with the Jones’. Perfection is overrated and downright terrifying, a cruel master that takes all the joy out of life and imprisons you in and endless cycle of pushing for more, wanting more, buying more, spending more. When really the true essence of life lies in the woods where money is of no use.
Why now, why Thoreau? Everything happens for a reason and one of these present reasons happens to be reading Thoreau at the moment and opened up the floodgates. It has been ages since I touched Walden, Walden Pond, and Civil Disobedience but now that I have deliberately chosen my woods, it is time to reacquaint myself with this voice from my past. Maybe it has something I do with closing chapters and trimming off all the dangling threads of my past, or perhaps it was the 90-minute delay I had last night with the train on the way home that gave me cause for contemplation. It doesn’t really matter does it? So thank you RR, for bringing back the woods.