Monday, November 16, 2009

walden, henry and me

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book." Henry David Thoreau

I first read Henry David Thoreau's book Walden back in high school. It was the first time I ever read a book (that wasn't a textbook or scriptures) and marked it up with a pencil. I remember reading about three pages in, grabbing a pencil, and immediately went back to page one and started marking passages. I love this book. It's a book I can pick up and just open randomly and start reading. What a gem!

I think the book and Thoreau's experiment of living in the woods, alone and largely self-sufficient, is often misunderstood. It seems many people assume that Thoreau wants all of us to return to a life close to nature, living off of nature, and isolating ourselves from society and machines. I don't think this is at all what he wanted us to understand from his experiment. I think he wanted us to simply some take time to examine our individual lives in our society and evaluate how we can simplify our lives to live, as it puts it, more "deliberately".

Thoreau wants us, I think, to find a balance in our lives and to ask ourselves what things are getting in our way of enjoying life and the people in it? What kind of schedule have we committed ourselves to that keep us from family and home? What kind of debts and financial decisions are keeping us trapped?

Cumbering our lives is so easy to do and I certainly have been guilty of it. As Thoreau himself said, "Our life is frittered away by detail."

Reading Walden, or skimming through the marked up passages of my copy, always helps me to remember to realign my life to what is most important and to loosen up my ties to things I really don't need nor ultimately want.

This week I'm celebrating Walden and Henry David Thoreau with a series of posts on Thoreau and his influence on me.

By the way...the photographs in this entry come from a photographer, Smári, who has spent a year creating a gorgeous album of images of the pond in all seasons. I've never visited Walden Pond in Massachusetts but these photographs truly take me there...

All images copyright © 2008 Smari

1 comment:

kimbuktu said...

Thank you, I enjoyed this post. Living deliberately is indeed a challenge. I needed to be reminded of this.

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