10 August 2005

Pared down

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quick-sands and thousandand-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.
~ Henry David Thoreau, "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Walden

In the thick of the third academic bimester, I see how more suited I am to life here than there. I have no car, telephone, microwave, tv, or hot water--and never miss them. There's something to be said for losing layers of details that used to take up so much time and having a dream vacation consist of visits to bookstores and coffee shops. Of course, my situation is by no means austere--I have an ocean out my window and broadband at my fingertips. But I somehow feel closer to the stack of books and sheets of blank, unlined paper on this rickety wooden table...


Bud Parr said...

You had me until the hot water part.

amcorrea said...

Ha! Well, given the fact that it's nearly always in the 90s here, I honestly don't miss it much.