We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve
and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
It seems to me that the god that is commonly worshipped in civilized countries is not at all divine, though he bears a divine name, but is the overwhelming authority and respectability of mankind combined. Men reverence one another, not yet God.
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
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. -- Walden; or, "Life in the Woods --Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher and writer, was at the forefront of the transcendentalist movement. The importance of nature and the basic goodness of human nature were emphasized in his transcendentalist philosophy. To go deeper into these ideas Thoreau took a 2 year, 2 month and 2 day stay at Walden Pond whereupon he wrote his most famous work, Walden. The following are quotes and excerpts from his work.
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life...When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. --"Walden'"or "Life in the Woods-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal, ... That is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. ... The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. -- "Walden'"or "Life in the Woods-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
Things do not change, we change.
The scenery, when it is truly seen, reacts on the life of the seer. How to live. How to get the most of life.... How to extract its honey from the flower of the world.
Every man is the builder of a temple called his body...We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's feature, any meaness or sensuality to imbrute them.. --"Walden'"or "Life in the Woods-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
Nature spontaneously keeps us well. Do not resist her!
We are constantly invited to be who we are.
There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.
-- Civil Disobedience
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.
-- "Walden'"or "Life in the Woods-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
Excerpts and quotes on this page from Walden,Journals,Civil Disobedience and A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers.
Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, how ever measured or far away.--"Walden'"or "Life in the Woods-- Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"