Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life of Simple Beauty

Photo caption: Reproduction of Thoreau's cabin with statue of Thoreau. From Wikkipedia.

"For seen with the eye of the poet, as God sees them, all things are alive and beautiful."

This beautiful quote is by Henry David Thoreau, from his journal dated March 13, 1842.

It's appropriate in Nashville today, since beautiful, fat flakes of snow are falling, bringing peace and beauty to our world.

Thoreau is considered by many to be the first nature writer, and of course is best-known for his essay, Civil Disobedience, which influenced Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, among others.

His other great contribution to the world came through his commitment to living simply, in harmony with both nature and humans.

He lived at Massachusetts' Walden Pond for "two years, two months, and two days" and although he was criticized by his peers for allowing his mother to bring him home-cooked meals once a week, there is no doubt that Thoreau's political and nature writings have had tremendous, lasting, influence.

Through his nature observations, documented in 2 million words in 24 notebooks, Thoreau began noticing environmental and ecological patterns. His observations were not taken seriously, however, until the 1970s, more than 100 years after his death in 1862 at age 44.

He also was an early proponent of public land conversation.

Like many forward thinkers, Thoreau was criticized, especially by adventure author Robert Louis Stevenson, who considered Thoreau's simple, woodsy life to be "effeminate".

From what I have read and understood about Thoreau, he was so in harmony with himself and the world around him, particularly the natural world, that these criticisms had no effect on him.

He continued to live his life by being true to himself, and perhaps most importantly, shared what he learned with the world.

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