Sunday, October 27, 2013

Simple? Maybe ...

What is it that makes for a simple life? And why is that so desirable? If you are like me (and it is simpler for me to imagine that you are) my mind goes to Walden - keeping everything as simple and ordinary as possible so that one can concentrate on what is really important be it nature, the soul, creativity or social consciousness
I did not actively choose to be in a little house in the woods, like Thoreau did - but here I am. The tall white spruce that tower over our home remind me of the trees in this picture - our home is larger - it has indoor plumbing (two bathrooms!) and besides the wood-stove it has electric heat. It is simpler in many ways that homes I've lived in recently. Why? Because there is no outlet for choosing materialism over creativity, spirituality etc...I have plenty of time here. Time to burrow into what is important.

Here is a paragraph from the second chapter of Walden:

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining-rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.

Folks often wonder why Thoreau went off into the woods to live with very little money, but I wonder most often why he stopped? Was it such a short experiment - two years - that satisfied him and gave the rest of his life meaning?  Having discovered what he did was it fine for him to enter human society again - put himself at risk of being sucked back into a dissembling he found repugnant? I'm not a scholar of Thoreau but I have pondered these questions over the years.

Perhaps I will take the opportunity of this adventure to look further into Thoreau's writings and see what sense he made from his youthful foray into self-sufficiency.

Now I want to tell you that we bought a bird feeder and suet holder yesterday - probably spending quite a bit more than Thoreau's first year cost him - and to encourage me, even before the feeders have gone up - a couple of pine grosbeaks visited and I caught a portrait of one! Here it is :

Now it is time for me to go fishing in the sky ... and you?

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