October 03, 2005

Walden Selections

"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."

This quote just struck me from Thoreau's Walden. I'm not sure why this one, out of all of Thoreau's writing stood out, but it definitly did. Makes one think, "Am I doing this all wrong. Have I ever really lived?"

Thoreau recognized that, even in his time, that the world has become an increasingly complex and hectic place. With all that occurs daily- such as running to and from work, making sure tasks are completed on time, fitting everything in, and the ever present stress- we forget the simplicity of how things used to, or should, be. In the end, is it really worth all the stress, all the running around? Would simply be better? (Wow, don't I sound deep...?) Going to a simpler life, as Thoreau has done in the woods, may hold the answer. Alone, in the quiet and away from the world, does one truly live their life? Thoreau certainly tries. I doubt such a thing could be tried today however. Even the woods belon to this crazy world he wanted to try and escape.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at October 3, 2005 03:45 PM | TrackBack

I'd feel far more stress in the woods, trying to hunt and keep warm, than sitting in a traffic jam. But that's probably Thoreau's point. He's concerned about the ways that the life of leisure and reflection is being worn away by the obligations of society, and wants to return to a simpler world in which people had fewer expectations, and thus spent less time trying to fulfill them.

Of course, as an educated man in a position of literary power, his opinions don't reflect the reality of a factory worker or a starving share-cropper, but if everyone lived simply, as Thoreau suggested, then there wouldn't be the economic imbalance that locks some people in despearate poverty.

Of course, that same imbalance permits the educated aristocracy to withdraw from society to think.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 3, 2005 05:24 PM

I agree. This was the quote that I chose also. You also bring up a good point about the fact that this may not work as well today, although he thought that it could work well for him. He would have prefered to survive on his own than to fall into the ways of society.

Posted by: Stacy at October 3, 2005 08:39 PM


Sometimes your philosophical ideas make you absolutely brilliant. Now that's aside, I couldn't agree more that Thoreau's seclusion out of society made some of his best ideas truly reveal themselves. I think that is an obvious point, as Dr. Jerz already pointed out, but if it's so obvious, then why don't we do it? Because people in today's society would be viewed as absolutely crazy and ridiculous...and homeless. :P. Once again, nice read into Thoreau, I couldn't agree more with you.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at October 3, 2005 10:08 PM

i agree with thoreau's lifestyle more than most. i think that living simply is the perfect way to live.

also, a quote for you!
i'm not quite sure who said this, but...

"live simply, so that others may simply live."

i think it's worth considering.

check out my entry, too, for more thoughts.

Posted by: LaurenEtling at October 3, 2005 10:36 PM

Jay- I know I'm brilliant. I thought everyone knew this...haha.

Lauren- Thanks for the quote. I've heard it before too (but don't know who said it). Too bad it's not so easy to do though...

Posted by: Nessa at October 4, 2005 01:17 AM
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