Anyway, last night I was skimming though the "Self-reliance" chapter of said book and I came across a small reading that I have been in search of for months. It is part of Chapter Two of Thoreau's Walden, often referred to as "Simplify, simplify." If you have never read it, I strongly recommend it. It is a mere two paragraph article that has affected me since early college, when I read Walden for leisure for the first time.
Here is a good link to this little reading. Start at line/paragraph 16, and continue to around 18 to find what I am talking about.
HDT talks about why he went to the woods to live in that tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere:
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.In my month of so of being a housecat, I have very, very slowly come to realize a few things that I have been going without for months, even years. During last week's rain spell, I realized that my feet had not been dry in wet weather for at least two years. My shoes all have holes in which I can put a finger through. So I have a new, quality pair of boots coming in the mail today. My seven year old glasses broke in the late spring this year. I have gone without them until today, when I went to the optometrist. My new glasses are scheduled to arrive in a couple weeks. I have also worn the past nine shirts for about the past six months. This week I allowed myself to purchase a few new pieces of clothing (hip ones, even!) to replace those I had worn thin.
These things I went without had never bothered me in the least. For the past several months I was so worried about how to stay warm and/or happy that wet feet, blurry vision and a ripped shirt in my wardrobe didn't even cross my mind! The past month I have been trying to house train myself, trying to figure out how to best make use of this time under a ceiling. It's taken me this long to adjust to comfort, to trust comfort. I still resist it.
But am I disappointing myself, my friends and readers by having these things, these articles and items of comfort that are not needed for mere survival? Internally I am battling over the question; Am I still living as a minimalist, a nomad? Or am I a big, stupid fake?
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.My thumb nail is still stark, barren and clean. For now I will rest, plan, and set myself up for success. I mean, Thoreau at least had a roof.