Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Excerpt from Thoreau's "Walking"

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say a penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shop-keepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them — as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon — I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

I who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust, and when sometimes I have stolen forth for a walk at the eleventh hour of four o’clock in the afternoon, too late to redeem the day, when the shades of night were already beginning to be mingled with the day-light — have felt as if I had committed some sin to be atoned for, I confess that I am astonished at the power of endurance — to say nothing of the moral insensibility of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, aye and years almost together. I know not what manner of stuff they are of — sitting there now at three o’clock in the afternoon, as if it were three o’clock in the morning. Bonaparte may talk of the three o’clock in the morning courage, but it is nothing to the courage which can sit down cheerfully at this hour in the afternoon over against one’s self whom you have known all the morning, to starve out a garrison to whom you are bound by such strong ties of sympathy. I wonder that about these times, or say between four and five o’clock in the afternoon, too late for the morning papers and too early for the evening ones, there is not a general explosion heard up and down the street, scattering a legion of antiquated and house-bred notions and whims to the four winds for an airing — and so the evil cure itself.

Source, Part One.
It would seem that I 'suffer' the same affliction as Thoreau. The past three days, I have walked "through the woods and over the hills and fields" surrounding our fair village three-and-a-half, three-and-a-half, and four hours, respectively. No less would do, and more would have done nicely. I, likewise, share in the sinful "eleventh hour of four o’clock in the afternoon" scenario for which I feel I must atone. If only my affliction would spread to span the breadth and depth of his, my hero's, genius.

But if one will read Thoreau's first few Journal entries, written when he was twenty (in response to Emerson's having asked him if he kept a journal), you shall see that his genius was very much intact at that tender age.

1 comment:

  1. I am that shop keeper, setting here crossed leg. pulling my hair out looking at the computer. but i do try and ride or walk to work every day often stopping at the pool for a swim. Its not just the exerciser we get from walking swimming but the escape we allow our minds to run free

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