Thursday, February 08, 2007

Being the "barrenest pasture lying fallow"

Raised in America, I've been well-schooled in the "goodness" of money -- that it can make me and others happy.

But I've been lucky. Christian parents and a good education have made me aware of the dangers of swallowing this hook-line-and-sinker. Money's a tool to be used; it's not a value on which to base your life.

Today, I found this 150 year-old diary entry by Henry David Thoreau -- the conscience of America. He talks about his frustrations living as a spartan amid the materialism of the mid-nineteenth century. And, most touchingly, he considers the spiritual rewards that come from appreciating the simple, unencumbered life.

"...In the society of many men, or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account, and my spirits rapidly fall. I would rather be the barrenest pasture lying fallow then cursed with the compliments of kings, than be the sulphurous and accursed desert where Babylon once stood. But when I have only a rustling oak leaf, or the faint metallic cheep of a tree sparrow, for variety in my winter walk, my life becomes continent [content?] and sweet as the kernel of a nut. I would rather hear a single shrub oak leaf at the end of a wintry glade rustle of its own accord at my approach, than receive a shipload of stars and garters from the strange kings and peoples of the earth."


RennyBA said...

Thanks for sharing buddy - a great read!
Wishing you a wonderful end to your week:-)

Cathy said...

I'd missed this entry at The Blog Of Henry David Thoreau. That's just extraordinarily beautiful. As I read his journal entries, I find it remarkable that one man could be so lyrically wise.