This is a wonderful message from Peter.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walden. I hope you won’t mind if I offer a brief taste below:
“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 thousand-and-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.
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time save nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nice tomorrow.”
peace & laziness,
This reminded you that two months ago, John Updike also had an article called A sage for all seasons on Guardian. Updike wrote:
In a time of informational overload, of clamorously inane and ubiquitous electronic entertainment, and of a fraught, globally challenged, ever more demanding workplace, the urge to build a cabin in the woods and thus reform, simplify, and cleanse one’s life – “to front”, in Thoreau’s ringing verb, “only the essential facts of life” – remains strong.
……Thoreau’s recognitions endeared him to the revolutionaries of the 1960s: he saw the violence behind the established order, the enslaving nature of private property, and – a trend even stronger now than 40 years ago – the media’s substitution of “the news” for private reality. “Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous.” The word “reality” rings through Walden : “Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance… till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality … Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.”