The words “Live Deliberately” have resonated with me since the first time I read Walden as a young teenager. And, after spending years reading and studying Thoreau’s works, these 2 simple words have remained my guide and credo.
So what does it mean to Live Deliberately?
To Thoreau, it meant stripping down his life to only the essentials, so that he could connect with his spiritual self, and fully appreciate the beauty and art in nature. He watched his fellow countrymen toiling away, struggling every day to make enough money to afford bigger houses, fancier clothes, and more property, falling further and further behind in their quest for more materialistic possessions. Paying today and tomorrow for food that was eaten yesterday, and clothing purchased last month. They allowed themselves not a moment to reflect on the beauty that surrounded them, the changing of the seasons, a simple conversation, or the pleasures of exploring. Amazing how little has changed.
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”-HDT
To me, Living Deliberately means making a choice every day to live my life on my own terms. To choose what I spend my time on, what is important to me, who is important to me, and the kind of person I want to be, regardless of how others behave. It’s simplifying my life, and finding the peace. An appreciation for all the beauty…watching the herons in the tree next to my balcony build their nest year after year, a single flower growing between the cement blocks of the walkway, the changing colors of the sky, a conversation with a friend, a beautiful poem, painting or photograph. Not always looking for more. Not always wanting more. Not always expecting more. Just an appreciation of what is already there.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) was an American writer, philosopher, and naturalist. He is most well-known for his book Walden, as well as his essay Civil Disobedience. He authored more than 20 volumes of writing in his lifetime, including books, essays, journals, and poetry. He was a fervent abolitionist, and a leading member of the Transcendentalist movement, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and Margaret Fuller. Further information about Thoreau and his work can be found at thethoreausociety.org. I also highly recommend Henry David Thoreau: A Life, by Laura Dassow Walls for a wonderful biography and overview of his work.