Thoreau Thursdays (52): Leaving the Woods with Several More Lives to Live

April 12, 2012

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there.  Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare more time for that one.  It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Reading Walden

Title page of one edition of Walden with Thoreau's portrait

After more than two years at Walden’s Pond, Henry David Thoreau left his little cabin in the woods.  His experiences there are a reminder to me to follow my dreams and the urgings of my heart.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment:  that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Writing these weekly Thoreau posts has become something of a habit.  And as Thoreau observes in this week’s quote, we are creatures of habit and find comfort in them.  Habits do bring a reassuring structure to one’s days.

But this post concludes my year of reading Walden.  I think I will be at a bit of a loss for a while as I move away from Thoreau Thursdays to new projects.  But I, too, have several more lives to live, and it’s time to move on.

My life feels quite satisfying when I structure it as a series of personal projects, and part of the fun is finding something I can be passionate about and devote my energies to during the finite time I have left in this world.  I want to continue to challenge myself to not just repeat past successes, but to step into the uncertainties beyond, to push my boundaries, and to explore the unfamiliar.  I will move forward bolstered by the gifts I’ve received from reading Thoreau this past year.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principles of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angles
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

The end of the road for Thoreau Thursdays

8 Responses to “Thoreau Thursdays (52): Leaving the Woods with Several More Lives to Live”

  1. Shirley Mord Says:

    Will look forward to your new post. Enjoyed Thoreau Thursday very much

  2. Rosemary thank you for this series and inspiring me…I looked forward to every TH and will be sad now, but braver to move forward…you have given us an incredible gift with Thoreau Thursdays and I thank you!

  3. Elephant's Eye Says:

    Intrigued to see in which direction you will take us now!

  4. babyboomervegan Says:

    I enjoyed your thought provoking T. Thursdays. Best wishes to you as you travel new roads.

  5. Elisa's Spot Says:

    awwwwwwwwwww…..I mean woohoo too!
    I like Thoreau! What about Muir?

  6. Judy Janke Says:

    I’ll miss your Thoreau Thursdays…but, the, maybe it will make branch out on my own to discover one of my favorite writers, further. Thanks so much! I look forward to seeing what is NEXT!

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