My days were not minced into hours (Walden 78)

“My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of a clock… This was sheer idleness to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have been found wanting.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Sounds,” Walden

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to do nothing? Just to find some pleasant spot and sit there and do nothing but pay attention to what’s around you. How long do you think you can keep it up before being dragged back to the world in which the days of minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of the clock?

It’s hard for me, but I find it easier in some natural environment, where I am away and can’t be reached, can’t be distracted by media or responsibilities, because none of those things are physically present. (Hint: if you must take along an electronic leash, otherwise known as a phone, at least turn it off, put it away, and stuff it deep in a backpack where it will be hard to get to.)

“A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true,” Henry writes. “The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.”

(About  “A Year in Walden”)


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