Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow.
~Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Before you roll your eyes and stop reading for fear of moralizing aphorisms, fear not! I will talk about a trip, not on a road less travelled, but down the Minuteman Bikeway.
The Minuteman trail starts just beyond where I live, and goes all the way to Concord, Massachusetts. I biked through both Lexington and Concord, those cities we first learned about in US History that witnessed the beginning of our Revolutionary War. I rode through forests and marshes, down dirt paths and paved ones. I saw other bikers, dogs, even endangered species!* When I reached Concord, I went straight to Walden Pond.**
I sat in the sand to read, enjoying the sun, breeze, and pine-scented air.
I then returned to Concord, and strolled along its main streets. I found lots of cute, Massachusetts-based shops selling local goods. I also missed my chance to try cheese, which was a serious disappointment. But at least I got this picture 🙂
I got another scoop of ice cream, this time ginger and vanilla with oreo, because why not?*** I then biked home at warp speed, having found that sweet spot between physical comfort and awareness of surroundings.
Reflecting on the day-trip, my thoughts turned to Thoreau. He lived on Walden Pond for two years, two months, and two days.**** I remembered reading Walden, and admiring Thoreau for his determination to live life his own way, eschewing the politics and complications of everyday life. His lifestyle seemed thoroughly unavailable to me, but I longed for its ease and simplicity nonetheless.
A little bit older, and probably not wiser, I feel that Thoreau isn’t trying to wipe away life’s banalities, but to embrace them. His philosophy is a call to awakening. Mindful of the right now, we are able to experience emotions and events as they play out. It is hard not to live life on automatic, but I think whittling down our lives to the present moment helps us engage difficulties with clearer mind and renewed purpose. By committing to the present, you release yourself from a more fettered existence.
Out of simplicity, freedom.
**after first getting Graham Cracker ice cream. Priorities.
***It was really good! Go to Helen’s if you’re ever in Concord, MA.