Wisdom Aglow With Thoreau.
My college girlfriend gave me a book of Henry David Thoreau (HDT) poetry not long after I said to her argumentatively, “Leave me alone, or I’ll find someone else who will.” HDT became my partner for the rest of my college career.
Somehow, this Transcendentalist helped me find the source of my own joy. Thoreau wrote:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
As a lover of nature, Thoreau chose a cabin in the woods as his gateway to seek deeper truths in his soul. For me, it was often a deserted beach. Long ago, I wrote an unpublished book, “In Search of the Perfect California Beach,” as my feeble but frolicking attempt at turning my desire for space into a practical project.
Thoreau’s desire to seek untoured spaces, often alone, came through in this wise prose:
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
This wisdom gave me the courage to explore (and live) a life less ordinary with the faith that somehow my North Star would appear and give me guidance.
This sentence inspired me to become a “first-class noticer,” someone who looked beyond the surface:
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”
And, finally, this quote gave me the soul (and spine) to say no to an offer from one of the most powerful men in the world who wanted to hire me just as we were getting the Modern Elder Academy off the ground:
"The cost of something is measured by how much life you have to give for it."
In fact, I quoted those exact words when I turned down that job, as I intuitively knew I would have to give my whole life to the role he was positioning for me. I wasn’t willing to pay that high of a price for the power and prestige that working for this well-known man would have offered me.
Where might you find some wisdom from a modern-day philosopher or an ancient poet?
Who knows, your muse may be as close as your local library?