Category Archives: Thoreau

a pond to ponder

IMG_4099“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature’s watchmen — links which connect the days of animated life.” Walden…Henry David Thoreau

For me,Thoreau wrote the book on simplicity, literally. I am not moving to a cabin in the woods, but I will, by week’s end, have two rather large cardboard boxes filled up with unnecessary clutter and delivered to Goodwill. The boxes are sitting perceptibly on my keeping room table to remind me of their urgency. I will tend to them and at the end of the week, or perhaps sooner, I will feel gratification, for my life will be just a bit more relieved. This quest for simplicity, I am discovering, is a physical as well as a spiritual journey. I am also discovering that the physical achievement is much easier to attain than the spiritual.

 

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a journey

Today is day 10 of Elizabeth and I’s road trip, a trip to look at colleges for Elizabeth and to look at life for me. We began in south Louisiana and are now at the pinnacle, Woodstock, Vermont. I never imagined I would get here. This trip is surreal for me – New York City, Boston, New Haven, Cambridge, Salem, Concord, and now Woodstock, Vermont. Most of today was spent in Concord, MA amongst the transcendentalists – Emerson, Thoreau, and their little tag along, Louisa Mae. Just this morning, I stood in Louisa Mae Alcott’s bedroom and saw the desk her father made for her where she wrote Little Women and just after that I was at The Manse and saw the garden that Henry David Thoreau planted for his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sophia Hawthorne’s 1843 window etching – “Man’s accidents are God’s purposes”.

 Yesterday Elizabeth and I walked around Walden Pond and through the woods at Walden where Thoreau went to “live deliberately”. I am having a bit of trouble absorbing all of this; that’s why I am writing. The list continues with Boston and Paul Revere’s midnight ride and Salem and its witches, New Haven and Yale, Cambridge and Harvard and NYC and its everything. The history here in New England is seemingly infinite!

 We have met some extraordinary people along the way. Someone I will always remember was a young mother on the NYC subway late one night. Elizabeth and I were a bit lost and she showed us the way, and as we rode the N train, she shared her story with us. It was a story that, had someone written, it would have been a bit too extreme to believe but it was real and it was her life. It was very dark and I suppose depressing but she was not either; she was doing what she had to do to move forward – against all odds. I was and am still humbled by this young woman.

 Another person we met and actually got to know was the concierge at the apartment we rented, Michael. He is a native New Yorker and he was one of the warmest, if not the warmest, people we have met on our trip – someone beautiful.

While I hope to remember all of the enchanting places we have been so fortunate to see, it is the people that are the most incredible, and it is the people that I feel most affected by.

 Anyway, tomorrow we will begin our trek towards home and we will take with us beautiful memories of the states we have seen and more importantly, the people we have met along the way. Elizabeth and I will forever be affected by this trip we took, this mother/daughter journey of adventure and exploration that we will both hold in our hearts hopefully, always. I am not able to express the gratitude I feel for this huge experience I am having with my daughter. As I said earlier, I am so humbled by it all. I hope to write more when I finally get home; I hope to go beneath.





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Miriam Beard

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I thank all of you with an entry from long ago…

I really amazed myself yesterday, I stepped outside of my rational mind and invited a lot of you to visit my blog, sketchesofmyday, wow!! I am always very private and never self-advocating but I did this really bold thing by inviting you – soliciting you??  Hmmm. I suppose I am happy about that but then, perhaps not. I am constantly aware of ego driven situations and try to avoid them totally, especially for myself but then I think, this self-advocacy was not ego driven, it was just something I needed to do…I write, so I need someone to read – simple.

 I know that now and then I will write something that will be just what you needed to read – the universe puts it out there for you like that. Anyway, thank all of you for giving me consideration and no matter what, I will continue to write and paint and if along the way, my writing and my painting stirs an emotion in you, then it has purpose.
 I found what follows from a long ago post in the deep corners of my blog and it is so “right now” for me so I have to share with you, my “new” friends.

September 18, 2010

roads

It is Saturday morning in late September (and I really should be back in school – Rod Stewart) and I sit here wanting to write something positive and uncomplicated – the way I would like for my week end to be. I think of the quote my daughter sent to me yesterday, the one by Thoreau that says,

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; live the life you’ve imagined,”

and I am inspired. While hanging out sheets or mindfully making supper this week end and being still for a moment, I will think again of what my dreams are and try to clear the path that leads to them. Time is not waiting for me. I have realized that you need courage to follow your dreams because you must break away from the status quo and you must do as Frost says, take the other road,

“the one less traveled by”

daunting for most. I have not, as of yet, left the beaten path and I fear I may not ever. Life has led me to responsibilities and routines that are necessary to maintain. There are times, however, when I see a clearing and an opportunity to wander into the place in my head where I have my dreams. I feel encouraged that one day I will step off of this predictable path that I am on and just be. The place that I am now is a pleasant place, it is safe and enriched and all is well here, and for that I am grateful and thankful. This other place is just a place that only involves me – it is where

I

am and in time, I will find it. Meanwhile, I will relish these days and the people I am privileged to share them with…

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.

Alan Alda

my walk in the September woods

the promise of citrus in late October

a spider lily from Miss Sue’s garden

wildflowers in the woods

a Christmas tree

eating fallen pears

meeting for brunch

morning glory and cypress vine

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Thoughts on Thoreau

Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine… Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery.
Buddha
On the road again today – down to Geismar for a voice lesson (for Elizabeth). It seems Geismar was a small community between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that burgeoned because of the Crescent City exodus caused from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.I have driven nearly two hours and Elizabeth will have a 2 hour lesson from someone worth the time of this trip. Anyway, here I am sitting at an unfamiliar dining room table for the duration of the lesson – an opportunity to write. This entry will be directed towards me (if you choose to read it, I hope something is there for you). I am away from my house so all I can do is write and think – I can’t jump up at the sound of a buzzer to fold clothes or run to the kitchen because the pasta is boiling over, or say “I’m not interested” to the telemarketer on the landline or the Mormon at the door; I can’t pick figs ahead of the crows or pull weeds from my unkempt garden; all I can do is write.
I want to build on a thought I had early this morning – I was thinking of all of those years of abruptly springing from bed – snatching myself out of the elusive alpha state – and beginning my day without that creative connection. I am understanding why I chose to put my art in a dormant state for those years of intense, hands on, 24/7 parenting. My creative efforts were all channeled into my children then and I am very happy about that. Now, now that I can, I am enjoying immeasurably the time I have in the morning to explore my alpha state – I can see my life so clearly here. I understand, I recognize the right paths and the “big picture” here in the very early morning when there is no alarm or disturbance from the awaiting world. The more I know , the more I understand how we are hard wired to solve our own problems , it’s all there, we just don’t sit still enough to hear ourselves, we look everywhere for answers, every ” wrong where”, – the TV, magazines, society, everywhere but inside ourselves. Listen, listen. We can’t all physically go to Walden Pond, but, still, it can be a place we can “go”. I see my life better there in the early morning place, I see the beauty and I lessen the “issues”; I understand that my life is wonderful simply because it is “my” life – this is where I belong, right here in the smack middle of it – up to my elbows in the good stuff, the muck, the grime, the stuff that makes it mine. It is so important to reconnect with it to look at it from a distance, a spiritual look, a look at the bigger scheme of things. And in looking this way, all the little things go away, sort of like looking at the planet earth from space. The little annoyances that society says are important – ha – that’s so wrong, so wrong to be filled with propaganda and falsehoods, and illusions, this stuff that we get bombarded with daily is not true – don’t believe it, don’t let it into your life – it’ll mess you up, it’ll make you feel less than you are and that is not what the universe intended – we need to feel good about who we are so we can do good for the world. There, I’ve said it, I expressed how I feel.  I suppose this entry is more of a rant than anything else, but it annoys me so much the way outside forces motivated by money are constantly trying to tell me what is right for me and emphasis what is “wrong” about me and how “they” can fix it. At 57, I don’t fall prey to this gobbledygook (love this word – had to use it!) but I think of how many, mostly young, do. It’s all an illusion – smoke and mirrors – someone trying to sell you something, consumer driven society. Ok, got to go – I have an hour left and I want to put down some thoughts on something else I’m working on. I am where I need to be. We are the authors of our lives.
“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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” Henry David Thoreau …Walden
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Walden

 

“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature’s watchmen — links which connect the days of animated life.”
 From Walden  – Thoreau
new life…baby chicks
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why

I had some sort of “dreamshot” early this morning that woke me up and has stayed with me most of the day. I  put value in dreams – I think it is my subconscious mind filling me in on something; it is actually spiritual for me.Anyway, only I was in this dream fragment. I was in a nearby town, a real one, Lafayette, and I stood in between two landscapes, one was a beautiful woodland where 100 + year old trees thrived and small animals lived and the other was concrete strip malls and national chains where people bought useless stuff. I looked at one and then the other and wondered why.

 Thoreau
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