Walden

By: Henry David Thoreau

Walden is the account of Thoreau's two-year experiment in simple living on Walden Pond. One could do no better in describing its intent than he: “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 it came time to die, discover that I had not lived.”

The work that resulted from his experience has become a timeless classic, shinning light on the benefits and freedoms of a simple life. Today, as in Thoreau's time, when it comes to economics everyone seems only concerned with how to make more money. He advocates instead for us to need less money, requiring less work to stay afloat, resulting in more time to do the things you actually want to do.

At times, I found the book slow, languishing in description of the sights and smells and sounds of the turning seasons at Walden Pond. Other times, I marveled at passages overwhelmingly saturated with philosophy and wisdom that penned over 160 years ago and still essential today. For those best parts, Walden is an essential read.

My 10 Favorite Index Cards:

Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil and one who is striking at the root.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.
A man sits as man risks as he runs.
Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
It is true, we are such poor navigators that our thoughts, for the most part, stand off and on a harborless coast, are conversant only with the blights of the bays of poesy, or steer for the public ports of entry, and go into the dry docks of science, where they merely refit for this world, and no natural currents concur to individualize them.
It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trad it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths of which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.
I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

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