“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond, 1854
I can still remember my first encounter with Thoreau’s Walden; I sat in class frantically copying someone else’s American Literature notes in the hope of not completely bombing our mere-moments-away quiz over Transcendentalism. As a junior in high school, I was too preoccupied with friends, football, and girls to care what some book-nerd wrote in a cabin in the middle of the 19th century. Now, as I sit typing this, Thoreau’s words are forever engraved in my heart, and it will take me a lifetime to appreciate their true wisdom and beauty.
How many of us can say that we live deliberately? Or that we really live at all? Our society moves so fast – what’s here today is gone tomorrow. We wake up in a hurry, grab our instant coffee to-go, kick the kids to the curb to catch the bus, race off to work to sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer screen all day, only to then fight traffic on the way home, pick up dinner from a drive-thru window, pull into our over-sized garage, park the car that’s financed well into the next century, plop in front of the flat screen TV, only to fall asleep and start the whole process over again. Where’s the deliberateness in that? What’s the point? Earn more money to buy more stuff that we don’t need and won’t have time to enjoy anyways? No thanks.
And so it is only now, after having been in the world for a few years, that Thoreau’s words ring true in me; and like Thoreau I wish to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Which leads me to farming, it’s not exactly Walden Pond, but it’s not the meaningless rat-race of consumer culture either. More importantly, it’s my own attempt to live deliberately, to swim against the current, and to spend my life close to the land surrounded by family and friends, trusting in God, with purpose and meaning.