The Inspiring Life of Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) in June 1856 (...

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Perhaps Thoreau was among the first minimalists. In March 1845, when he was 28 years old, he borrowed an axe from a friend & went to the country near Concord to a lake called Walden Pond. His purpose was to see whether or not he could be happy living alone close to nature, without any possession except what was absolutely necessary.

At Walden he used the axe to cut down trees & made a simple little cabin 10 Ft wide & 15 Ft long, with a closet, a small room above, a brick fireplace, windows at the sides & a door facing the waters of the pond. Altogether the cost of his home was only 28$ & 12C. Inside Thoreau had a desk, a table, 3 chairs & a mirror all of which he made himself. Cooking pots & dishes came as gifts from friends.

Thoreau Lived at Walden for almost 2 years, spending very little money. During this time he earned a few Dollars by doing small jobs & by selling vegetables which he grew. He was thus able to live working 6 weeks of the year, leaving the rest of the time free for reading & exploring the woods.

In his book Walden he wrote that he did not believe that Labor, Property or responsibility made a person better or more spiritual.  The poorest people of all, he wrote, are those who have gathered worthless things for which they had no real use. They have created their own gold/silver chains.

In his days thousands of people were rushing to california to search for gold. Thoreau thought such people were fools. His thought was that people should stay & plough the land rather than look for gold which is of no real value.

Memorable Quotes by Thoreau:

~ And the cost of a thing it will be remembered is the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it.

~That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

~Simplify, simplify.

~Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.

~If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.

~Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at.

~If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours … In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.

~If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!

~Most men would feel insulted, if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.

~Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee, that, if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure, that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for.

~I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.

~When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is, that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office.


January 11, 2011. Tags: . Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quotations, Reading, Simplicity, Wisdom.


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