Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Reading Thoreau. now that I am a middle aged woman who cares!

I remember reading bits and pieces of Thoreau's Walden in a literature class in high school. I do not remember any of it sticking to me at that time. I wonder if the circumstances of being assigned to read something take something away from the total comprehension of what is assigned. Or maybe it's just bad teaching. Or an impossible assignment for the teacher.

Anyway, I've found an annotated version of Walden online, and I've been sneaking away a few guilty moments to read it while I am at work. I have to do something to break up the monotony. Reading online is nice in a way, because I can copy and paste lines that really move me, for later reference.

I always knew I was different, but wow, I think, after reading most of the first chapter, that I am a kindred spirit of Thoreau. Why just this morning I was chiding my oldest son for using the electric heater in his room, when he could just pile on another blanket and he would be fine! Or he could just get used to being cold. Either way I think he would survive.

And fashion! My sense of fashion stalled somewhere in the early nineties, when there were some sensible things going on. According to Thoreau, as long as it's functional, it's okay. I can certainly live with that! I just have to stop looking in the mirror...

Anyway, I have discovered that I am into what may be best described as deep simple living. And I had a dream to underscore that last night. Somehow, I had devised a plan where I would be dropped off in a small town where I used to live, and I would meet a bus to go to work. Unfortunately, I had not studied the schedule, so I became obsessed with whether or not I knew when the bus would be there. The bus did come, eventually, but I missed it, just because I was so occupied in finding out exactly when it was to arrive. So I ended up sleeping on a bench in the street, feeling so despondent I jumped up and down on the pavement, trying to wake myself from the dream.

The message: (and Jesus has said this I think....) don't sweat the details.


forest wisdom said...

I truly smiled when I read this post. I'mglad you are reading Thoreau and that he is speaking to you. I guess I would say that Thoreau has long been a "guiding light" of mine, and any kindred spirit of Thoreau must surely be a kindred spirit of mine. :)

"Deep simple living" you say.... I like the phrase. :)

If you like Walden, may I suggest Thoreau's The Maine Woods? It's another great read. At least I think so. :)

Peace to you kindred spsirt.

Pablo said...

Walden has probably the most rousing closing paragraph of any book I've ever read.

(Didn't much like The Maine Woods though.)

Island Rider said...

You are right. Jesus did say something very similar:

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

barefoot gardener said...

You and me, both, girl.

My fashion sense stalled out somewhere around "comfortable", and I just had the same conversation with MY family about the heat. I mean, this is MN! We are SUPPOSED to be cold now and again....

Anyway, glad you are enjoying Walden. Now I gotta go dig out my copy and refresh my memory....

RuthieJ said...

Thanks for the book recommendation Deb. I have never read Thoreau, but it sounds like I'd better check it out from the library.

Floridacracker said...

I do not think of you as middle aged.

Carolyn H said...

Deb: i agree totally. Thoreau is so much more important to me now than wheever I read him for the first time. Whether it's functionaly, practicality or just plain common sense, Thoreau's the man. And I suspect the poor fellow was thought more than a little odd even in his own time.

Carolyn H.

Jim said...

Funny, I've always considered you a to be a deep simple living Thoreauvian.

I just hope you don't leave the Minnesota woods to take over your dad's pencil factory.

Ooohhh we just had an earthquake!

Good Jolt Too!!!!

Jim said...

RE:previous post

I checked the earthquake map and filled out a report.

It was only a 2.1 magnitude shaker but it was centered in Big Bear Lake, just a few miles from here, so it rattled the house pretty good.

Nothing fell though, no damage.

MojoMan said...

We all like to think of Thoreau as the original hippie, or something like that, and we all know some of his choice phrases like: "In wildness is the preservation of the world." One of my favorites is: "For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, one is hacking at the root." So, a couple of years ago I tried to read "Walden" all the way through, and to be honest, I didn't make it. Maybe it was the 19th century language, or something, but it didn't hold my attention. I'll have to try again. After all, I live not to far from Walden Pond, and I've been to his cabin site a few times. I even added a pebble or to the the rock pile there.

Jayne said...

The original hippie... that is a good analogy for Thoreau. :c) Like you Deb, I suppose it didn't mean as much when we HAD to read it. Maybe I'll have to check it out as well.

Deb said...

Forest Wisdom- I guess I've always known Thoreau and I had a lot in common, it just hadn't occurred to me to actually read Walden until now!

And that's what I like about blogging; meeting more kindred spirits than I have in real life! :)

Pablo- I had to skip ahead to the closing paragraph. Very inspiring.

Island Rider- Yup, that was the passage I had in mind!

Barefoot- You reminded me I forgot to turn off the heater in Calvin's room this morning. No sense using it when he's not there!

RuthieJ- It can be a little rough in parts; an annotated version, which explains some of his antiquated figures of speech, really helps.

FC- Well I'm no spring chicken either! :)

And, I don't think of you as middle aged.

Carolyn H- What strikes me is that all of the things I dislike about society were there, to some degree, in Thoreau's time.

Jim- Don't worry, there's no pencil factory to take over!

And, I believe you are the first blogger to ever experience an earthquake while commenting on Sand Creek Almanac. :)

MojoMan- I've been thinking someone should write a modern language version of Walden, that contains the essence in language that is more accessible to people today. Kind of like the Bible.

Jayne- Yeah, I didn't enjoy reading until I was able to read whatever I wanted! :)