In Walden, Thoreau addresses the idea that someone who becomes swallowed by their work, work which is necessary to make a living, is controlled by the concept of saving up money to live, but does not ever truly live. Although Thoreau was specifically talking about the laborers he saw in his town, his concept can be applied to people everywhere, and at any place in time.
People are so infatuated with the idea of preparing for life and all the various curve-balls that can very likely be thrown at them. Planning and preparation is not wrong. In fact, in most cases, it is extremely important to create security and stability in your life. People are willing to sacrifice free time in order to provide security for not only themselves, but for the ones they love as well.
What Thoreau is inferring is that it is as equally, and in his eyes, even more important, to allow time for living the life you spend so much time preparing for. Thoreau chose what kind of life he wanted to lead. He had his own bias towards what was too much preparation, and too little living. He also had a bias towards what actual living was. It is important to remember however, that Thoreau tells his reader to find for themselves what living is. He tells the reader to find their own meaning and purpose in life.
I don’t know what the meaning or purpose in my life is. I may never know, but I hope I find it. And maybe that’s just it – maybe what Thoreau wants for the reader to take from his writing is to accept the unknown. Don’t spend time searching for meaning or purpose. I try to focus on the things I enjoy, and balance those things with the work I need to do, such as school or my job. Maintaining that balance is difficult but important. So far, it’s working for me pretty well. Over the years, I’m sure I will change, my lifestyle will change, and my choices will vary.Most importantly however, I am confident in saying that I am proud of the person I am today.
If you feel like you’re drowning in the life you’re currently living, do something to change it, just as Thoreau changed his life. Or if you’re happy, keep doing what you’re doing because the chances are you’re doing something right.