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Henry David Thoreau On Living Presently.

Man is forced to confront himself when every distraction is gone. Man can only hear himself when every addiction is placed to the side. Being blinded by our addictions, and limited by our self imposed prisons we forget our beauty. We forget the power in our tongue, and value of our being. The only reality worth escaping is the one that limits our ability to embrace the people around us. We must make the journey towards selfhood through a commitment to advance directly toward our dreams. We are making a way towards transcendence. Throughout Letters to a Spiritual Seeker, written by Henry David Thoreau and addressed to a Mr. Blake, we are encouraged to live a patient life, and strive for the world within our imagination. Henry David Thoreau says this about our dreams:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.

In order to cross over into self-hood we must develop a mind that is present, definite, and incorruptible. We must remain present during the highpoints and moments of despair of our life. Strange things happen to the patient observers. The worst image of the world we’ve ever held is the belief that life is monotonous and predictable. The cosmos strangeness, earth’s insanity, and God’s unpredictability is proven the fact that we are born. But we fail ourselves, we worry about the future, we secretly love our imprisonment, we break promises, and we are almost forgetting that the world is grand. We must learn to live a patient, divine, and present life that allows us to surrender in order to elevate. Thoreau teaches us to remember the possibility of living a wonder-filled life saying:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this. I wish to live ever as to derive my satisfactions and inspirations from the commonest events, everyday phenomena, so that what my senses hourly perceive, my daily walk, the conversation of my neighbors, may inspire me, and I may dream of no heaven but that which lies about me.

Some days I watch myself receive awards for writing and yoga, other days I see myself back on the floor of my mother’s house. One is a dream of faith, and the other a dream ruled by fear; each day my commitment to my craft is dependent on which dreams rules my consciousness. Time becomes a enemy or friend dependent on the master of my mind. However, I want to live. I want to experience a life of presence. A life of joy. A life of prosperity, and embrace the world happening around me. I want to live with the knowledge that life contains every required to live prosperously. I choose myself, and my goal is for faith to be the everlasting master, and Thoreau reminds us that faith is necessary in this life saying:

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace. Each new year is a surprise to us. We find that we had virtually forgotten the note of each bird, and when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream, reminding us of a previous state of existence. How happens it that the associations it awakens are always pleasing, never saddening, reminiscences of our sanest hours. The voice of nature is always encouraging.

“Probe the earth to see where your main roots run,” Thoreau advises. “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” Yet he is quick to point out that he cannot live up to all his own ideals. “These things I say; other things I do,” he confesses. “I am too easily contented with a slight and almost animal happiness. My happiness is a good deal like that of the woodchucks.” Thoreau’s essays on friendship (one of these, sent as an enclosure, is reprinted here) set such demanding standards of complete frankness and high-mindedness that one wonders whether Thoreau ever actually had a friend. These letters make it plain that he could in fact be a warm and attentive friend. A wonderful book that needs to be read diligently and seriously.

Henry David Thoreau

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