The Thought for the Day – Henry David Thoreau

Let everyone mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden


Today marks the 163rd anniversary of the publishing of Walden. Though far from a best seller – it took a few years to sell out the initial printing of 2,000 copies – it has been in print almost continuously since Thoreau died in 1862. Walden does a brilliant job of providing the insights into our human experience that you pay us writers to provide and Walden remains a landmark in human letters. Though Thoreau, like every other writer, writes in the style of his times, which is somewhat, and perhaps even tediously, different than how we speak and write now, Walden is very readable and has rewards for both the casual reader and the serious thinker.

Let everyone mind his own business…

While it seems like fun to gossip or butt into other people’s lives, there really isn’t much profit in these endeavors for anyone. Our lives and everyone else’s work best when we give others the dignity of living their lives without interference from us.

…and endeavor to be what he was made.

We talk a lot about this in this space: we are all born with unique and distinctive talents and our lives run better when we are attending to those and not bothering others. When our times comes to die we are going to ask ourselves:

Did we do well or did we waste the 24 hours we are issued every day?

And only we can answer that question: I  can’t answer for you and you can’t answer for me. Literally or figuratively, we are going to have look ourselves in the mirror and decide. We cannot avoid it.

We can all do well with our time on this planet, but – like Thoreau said and did – we must endeavor to live the life we were meant to live. It is the only way we are going to ourselves or anyone else any good.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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