A Little Art and Some Wise Words from Thoreau for the End of the Week

Vincent-van-Gogh-Public-domain-Wikimedia-Commons

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.

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. The town’s poor seem to me often to live the most independent lives of any. Maybe they are simply great enough to receive without misgiving. Most think that they are above being supported by the town; but it oftener happens that they are not above supporting themselves by dishonest means, which should be more disreputable.

Bastein-Lepage_Diogenes

Diogenes in poverty by Jules Bastien-Lepage.

Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society. If I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts about me. The philosopher said: “From an army of three divisions one can take away its general, and put it in disorder; from the man the most abject and vulgar one cannot take away his thought.” Do not seek so anxiously to be developed, to subject yourself to many influences to be played on; it is all dissipation. Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights. The shadows of poverty and meanness gather around us, “and lo! creation widens to our view.” We are often reminded that if there were bestowed on us the wealth of Croesus, our aims must still be the same, and our means essentially the same. Moreover, if you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences; you are compelled to deal with the material which yields the most sugar and the most starch. It is life near the bone where it is sweetest. You are defended from being a trifler. No man loses ever on a lower level by magnanimity on a higher. Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.”

From the Conclusion of Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  Emphasis and layout are mine.

You can change your life.  Have an excellent weekend.

You can change your life.

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
This entry was posted in Thoreau and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Little Art and Some Wise Words from Thoreau for the End of the Week

  1. Thank you for this. Such a good reminder. I just wish that Thoreau had traveled a bit more, as well — it’s great to whittle back life to it’s essentials, but also transformative to get out of your own bubble and see the hardships that others are encountering. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could read BOTH Walden and the great Thoreau travel epic? 🙂

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