“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what I had to teach, and not, when I came time to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Thoreau
I think I’m going through my Thoreau stage of life. I mean…I don’t necessarily want to take off to Walden Pond and live in a shack, but I reflect often about the meat and bones of life and what practices really yield true happiness and true growth, and then I think about everything else. It seems like there are so many “everything else” type distractions from “the essential facts of life” and often time and energy is squandered on fluff that just does not matter. I get tired of the bright colored time wasters and want to spend my time on fruitful life-giving activities.
When I went to the University of Utah, I had the honor of being in a poetry class taught by Utah’s Poet Laureate, Katharine Coles. I think she encompassed this Thoreau-ism nicely. She talked about how she once had long, beautiful, flowing hair and would spend hours upon hours fussing about her hair until finally she realized all the time that was being wasted on her hair and she shaved it off. She’s had a shaved head ever since.
I’m not saying the solution to really living is shaving our heads, but the metaphor is beautiful—each person can search to identify what distracts their energy, focus and time from really living and cut it off to spend time on practices that make life joyful. This can be different for each person. Katharine Coles recently spent time in Antarctica writing poetry and learning about the sciences.
I think I’ll spend some more time thinking about what my Walden Pond or Antarctica really is and report back, but for starters, I simply want to slow down.