Thoreau's Journal: 18-Oct-1856

Men commonly exaggerate the theme. Some themes they think are significant and others insignificant. I feel that my life is very homely, my pleasures very cheap. Joy and sorrow, success and failure, grandeur and meanness, and indeed most words in the English language do not mean for me what they do for my neighbors. I see that my neighbors look with compassion on me, that they think it is a mean and unfortunate destiny which makes me to walk in these fields and woods so much and sail on this river alone. But as long as I find here the only real elysium, I cannot hesitate in my choice. My work is writing, and I do not hesitate, though I know that no subject is too trivial for me, tried by ordinary standards; for, ye fools, the theme is nothing, the life is everything. All that interests the reader is the depth and intensity of the life excited. We touch our subject but by a point which has no breadth, but the pyramid of our experience, or our interest in it, rests on us by a broader or narrower base. That is, man is all in all. Nature nothing, but as she draws him out and reflects him. Give me simple, cheap, and homely themes.


donw said...

Wow! Talk about putting common humanity's thoughts on the line for your time as well as for ours 151 years later.

Patrice said...

I can't help but think that Henry was truly a free man--free from so many of the superficial things we find ourselves weighed down with these days. I'm envious.

Anonymous said...

In addition to being uncommonly smarter and more aware than the common man of his era and ours, Henry also did not marry and have any children.

Society likes to make one believe that not taking a mate and producing offspring is a tragedy of some sort. Well, with 6.7 billion humans on this planet and rising every second, I consider this act one of many of Henry's acts of not following the sheep to be among the most noble for his species. Too bad so many others do not follow suit.

A spouse and kids can drain the life out of you. Yes, I can hear the comments now about too bad your parents had you then, eh. Well, we don't all need to be breeders for the species. Some of us have higher asperations, like Henry.

We will save you sheep despite yourselves.