July 12, 2017

Happy Birthday Henry David Thoreau

"If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen."   
- Henry David Thoreau

If you are interested in voluntary simplicity, chances are you have been influenced by, or at least know of, Henry David Thoreau. While he was born on this day 200 years ago, his anti-materialist/pro-nature philosophy is more important today than ever before.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment."  - H.D.T.

Thoreau's writings inspired me at an important time of my life. As a young man just starting out, his liberating outlook encouraged me to explore alternative ways of living and being. In him I found a friend in the struggle to come to terms with a set of basic questions that no one else seemed that concerned about.

"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." - H.D.T. 

While those around me thought they knew "what to do" in life, I thought the most important questions should be asked before deciding what direction one should take.

How best to earn a living? 

How much time should I spend at it? 

How much do I need to live well and to be free? 

Eventually, Thoreau's words moved me to actively search for my own version of the cabin, and lifestyle, of Walden Pond. He assured me that marching to my own drummer was the thing to do, and I have been dancing to that unique beat ever since. What a path it has lead me down.

"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around." 
- H.D.T.

Today, Linda and I have christened our new Nova Scotia home our "Cabin on Acacia Brook", even though it is neither a cabin, nor is it directly on the brook (which is across the field and down a forested slope).

"This world is but a canvas to our imagination." - H.D.T.

But it is as close as we have come yet to our ideal simple living arrangement where we can live out our most precious hopes and dreams.

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." 
- H.D.T.

So, today I commemorate the powerful influence that Thoreau's words, ideas, and philosophy have had, and will continue to have, on the world, and in my own life. Thanks, Hank. I hear your drum beat.

"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." - H.D.T.


  1. Anonymous2:14 AM

    Never read any of his work. In the UK there is not really an idea of living simply and watching the seasons pass by. I own what I need to get by and nothing more. I'm still part of system because other ways of living are not accessible, but I consume only the basics to get by. It gives you a new perspective when you are not engaging with consumption and it is nice not crave things anymore.

    1. Alex,

      Less stuff, less craving = less pain. It is good to be released from attachment to harmful things. I think you would enjoy Thoreau. You can find his masterpiece, "Walden", for free at Internet Archive. I think that Henry David would love that his books can be accessed for free.

  2. My poetry teacher introduced me to HDT and I read "Walden" for the first time at age 18. I've re-read it countless times.

    Recently I found a used copy of a children's book called "Henry David's House" and gave it to my young niece to introduce her to the world of HDT.

    I may not be living in a cabin as I'd always dreamed, but the lessons learned and and encouragement gained from his writings have certainly changed my life.


Comments are moderated to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We love reading all comments, and respond when time permits.