The Thought for the Day – Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Or Life in the Woods

Today’s Thought comes from a book we quote from time to time here. Walden’s influence on us is difficult to underestimate and it remains one of our species most enduring works.

We’ve read Walden, of course, but this specific quote didn’t make it into our personal quotebook when we read it. We found it later on a bookmark in a drug store in Cooperstown, New York, a bookmark we still use regularly.

…to front only the essential facts life…

What are our essential facts of life? Building a cabin on a lake in the woods worked for Thoreau, but for both circumstantial and intrinsic reasons, that isn’t for all of us. Do our essential facts include merely being entertained, or were we put on this planet for something more? Have we taken the time to take a long look inside us to see what moves us, to see the life we were meant to live, to find what exactly our essentials facts are?

It’s a journey all of us in search of a well-lived life must take: we must be willing to learn what the deepest recesses of our soul is trying to teach us.We must ask ourselves, pretty much everyday, too, if we willing to follow our hearts and trust our instincts, because our hearts will tell us where we want to go and our instincts will tell us how to get there. 

and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

There is going to come a time for every one of us when we are going to have to consider our lives and, more than likely, this time will come when it’s our turn to die. When that time comes, we are going to ask ourselves if we did well or did we squander our time on this planet?

If we looked inside us and lived the life we were meant to live, if we followed our hearts and trusted our instincts, we will be looking back on a life well lived, life’s great prize. If we did not look inside ourselves, if we spent our time merely reacting to outside influences, we will, honestly, be looking back at time squandered, life’s great tragedy.

We don’t have to go live in the woods to live deliberately. We can do it anywhere. All it requires is getting in touch with that something deep inside that defines who you are, that tells you the life you were meant to lead. Then you must go live that life.

It is something all of us can do.


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