Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pearls from Thoreau's Walden

If you haven't read Henry David Thoreau masterpiece Walden... savor this!!

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.... A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work.

The very simplicity and nakedness of man's life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. ...We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb.

I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men, the former are so much the freer.

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.

How much more admirable the Bhagvat-Geeta than all the ruins of the East! Towers and temples are the luxury of princes. A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince....One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve
Chapter: Economy

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.... "Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." 

Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air — to a higher life than we fell asleep from; 
 ...  To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

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 practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,

Our life is frittered away by detail.... Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

One attraction in coming to the woods to live was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the spring come in.

Thus it seemed that this one hillside illustrated the principles of all the operations of Nature. The Maker of this earth but patented a leaf ...spring: It convinces me that Earth is still in her swaddling clothes ... The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum .. ..but living poetry like the leaves of a tree ..

I am affected as if in a peculiar sense I stood in the laboratory of the Artist who make the world and me..

We should be blessed if we lived in the present always and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like a grass which confesses the influence  of the slightest dew that falls on it and did not spend our time atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while is it is already spring.

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