Smells Of Walden

Smells are a funny thing.  Yesterday morning on the way to an EMT appointment, a smell flittered into our car that triggered an early memory.

Is “flittered”  a word?

I think so. 🙂

The smell reminded me of new school books.   Fun With Dick And Jane kind of books.

The smell of new napping rugs.

So we’re talking way back memories…

I liked school when I was little.

Heck I  still like to read, and take naps.

Pause.

Last Sunday morning, while walking through my buddy Jim’s sitting room, a book he is currently reading caught my eye. I was so tempted to plop down on his couch and check out.

Carpe Diem right? :

The room in his sitting room faces south.  I built the addition a few years ago. Encouraged him to put lots of windows in because of the view.

Very much like this:

1931d Grant Wood (American regionalist artist, 1891-1942) Corn

Grant Wood  print.

Grant Wood grew up just minutes from here,  and this picture is very typical of  the terrain around here.

This was the book he is reading:

Walden book cover

I asked Jim what he thought about the book.  “Hard to understand.” he said sort of sheepishly.

(I remember trying to read it myself a couple of years ago, and while I did muddle through it,  I remember having somewhat of a similar reaction.)

It is just a theory I have but I think many of us are more infatuated with the idea of escaping to the woods to live deliberately rather than being enamored with the contents of that book.

Walden starts out like this:

     “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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

Now that sounds pretty good at face value.  The thing is, Thoreau only lived in that setting for a short season of his life…parts of two years, two weeks, and two days, on the edge of town, in a cabin owned by his good friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.   After that, he went back into society.

In 1995 we moved to an old run down acreage with a set of 100-year-old farm buildings. Curb appeal it did not have. The house and out buildings hadn’t been painted in 50 years. Nothing appealing except that it was 4 miles from town, and the foundation on the house was still solid.

I  have been  slowly  carving out my own version of Walden here ever since.

My vision of Walden  would probably looks different from yours.

But I would suspect it would be built on the same foundation stone.

The stone of living life intentionally.

Talk to me about living life intentionally. What does that mean to you?

 

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18 thoughts on “Smells Of Walden

  1. Wow, that is a great passage. I want to live intentionally, but the tasks of modern life seem to want to distract me from that desire. Someday I will live intentionally, without all these stressors pulling me back, clouding my mind. I want to get up in the morning and hear the birds, maybe the trickling of a creek, see the dappled sunlight coming through the window and hit the walls of the kitchen, while I wait for my coffee. I want to arise and know the day is mine, and will not be taken away in chunks by others pressing, self-centered demands. I think that would be living intentionally. At present, I am living most unintentionally, just surviving until bedtime.

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  2. If I could borrow someone’s cabin in the woods and sit there without any responsibilities for a couple years feeding myself with berries and writing, I would totally do it. Or if I could move to Bhutan and sit around with some monks and plant potatoes with farmers and photograph beautiful mountain views all day, I would do it.
    As it is now, we just take one day a week, and make it a Thoreau day, by going to our 1,600 acres of Arboretum woods, building stick houses, getting lost on trails, getting wet in creeks, and searching for wild edibles. Then, get back to society. 🙂

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  3. In my perfect world intention and purpose and a mindful path to that deep, honest life would an amazing, and achievable goal. I don’t live in a perfect world and I’m pretty sure my foundations cracked and crumbled long ago. When I take those little vacations to the beach cabins 2 hours away, alone with my thoughts, I come as close as I think I will ever be to my own Walden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What if the foundations were not so much exterior circumstances but something else…I’m not quite sure how to say it, but you strike me as someone who knows what she is about, and in my mind, that’s half the battle..(instead of just mindlessly following the crowd) so I think your foundations are a lot more solid and intact than you think…(I know you’ve mentioned you’ve had to give up doing things you love because of health issues) so maybe you’re in the middle of redefining what those goals are? (sorry if this sounds too abstract)

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  4. Been there, done that, twice! Every day in farming is a learning experience. Right now, I am looking forward to living intentionally again, as soon as I finish my 1-year commitment to step out of retirement to return to a management job at my university. I’m going to post a blog about it tomorrow. You can check it out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will look forward to your post! I have wondered what you’ve been up to since you stopped blogging. So do you currently also live on a farm? why did I think you lived in Canadian Suburbia? 😉

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  5. I think I strike my colleagues a little funny. They ask “how’s it going” or whatever, expecting the same ol same ol, but I tell em “Everything’s beautiful!” and I mean it. One guy responded, “started picking your own mushrooms, did you?!”
    The feeling that it’s cool to hate your job and mope about and bi* and moan is rampant at my work. I don’t get it. I choose to enjoy things. I’m easily entertained. They talk about TV shows or video games, and I remind them I don’t have cable, but I have (ahem, had) a shade tree I loved to sit under. (I’ll find another, I’m sure… :D)
    It’s all in jest. I’m not really looking down on them for watching TV. But if you hate it so bad at work, why spend all your money on frittery little stuff? Why not work toward not needing to work? That’s just my take.
    I just choose to enjoy things. There’s no bad weather, just weather. (well tornados are kinda bad…) I like feeling my fingers sting with cold, or running through rain.
    Sometimes this breaks down and I get pissed, but I try to just enjoy things despite challenges. This mindset may have stemmed from a terrible car wreck I was in, that I walked away from totally uninjured. Its kinda developed since then… 🙂
    I may have written too much here…. My apologies for rambling on…

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  6. Ah, I love Thoreau. Ever since reading him in high school, I find I keep coming back to his words, and each time they speak to me in a new way. Food, shelter, awareness…the basics of life which we so often lose sight of in our commercial, consumer-driven culture. How little can we have and still feel content? Ben Hewitt’s (http://benhewitt.net/) writing reminds me frequently of the excess in my life and how unnecessary it all is.

    Well now, I need me a nice long walk in the rainy woods to bring my mind back. Thanks for the reminder DM!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Uh…where to begin? So much to say, so much to process here. You hit the nail on the head with the beauty of this book. We all want “Walden”. I know I’ve been searching for it in my own ways. My Walden, I have found for now. A place of retreat. And a place of allowing others in, in moderation and on my terms.

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