The Thought for the Day – Henry David Thoreau

The mass never comes up to the standard of its best member, but on the contrary degrades itself to a level with the lowest. – Henry David Thoreau, lecture at Concord Lyceum, unknown date.

Henry David Thoreau, who is no stranger to regular readers of this crap, was an American writer and it is also fair to issue him the title of philosopher. He remains one of our favorite examples of someone who did what we constantly preach here: making your time serve you.

Today’s Thought is offered not as an indictment, but as an observation because what Thoreau talks about is completely in step with human nature. It’s human nature to take the road most traveled and it’s human nature to want to get along and fit in. It’s the way the world is built.

We see the lowest common denominator Thoreau is talking about all the time in this life. Our favorite example is a TV in a waiting room. Invariably it is tuned to cartoons or one of those infernal talk shows where a dozen young men are taking paternity tests to see if they fathered this young woman’s child. Few are enjoying it, but no one is moved to turn it to another channel or even turn it off.

This happens in individual lives, too. Few start out this life wanting to get as little as possible out of it. Some do, of course. The homeless ranks are full of people who do not want the responsibility of providing for themselves. Most of us, though, go to bed when we’re young dreaming about doing things.

But then we dive in and the reality hits: what we want is not going to happen immediately. It is going to take time and effort and patience, and in no small measure, either. It gets put of until tomorrow but tomorrow never comes, the years pass and the next thing anybody knows decades have gone by and we are looking back at what might have been, life’s great tragedy.

Each one of us must work to make sure this doesn’t happen. We must not settle for anything less than the life we were meant to live. We cannot let the years slip away. Each day we must wake up committed to making the next 24 hours serve us instead of merely serving time on this planet.

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


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