I’ve started reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I had read it in high school, but recently thought I might appreciate many of the details more as a working adult. I was right. I’m only 20 pages in and so much has resonated with me already.
For those who are unaware, Thoreau wrote Walden about a 2 year period when he lived alone in a cabin near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. It includes several reflections on what makes life worth living, and some of the self-destructive and ridiculous aspects of society. Above all, the messages on frugality and separating your life and self respect from material goods are especially meaningful to me.
It’s especially interesting how the “keeping up with the Joneses” theme and the associated counter-culture have been around since the mid-1800’s when the book was written. Lines like the following illustrate Thoreau’s opinion on the matter as well as the insignificance of material goods:
“The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?”
“When the soldier is hit by a cannonball, rags are as becoming as purple.”
What resonated with me the most were the parts where he talked about how life is more than the rat race. I feel like this line, in particular, embodies the spirit of the frugal living dividend investor seeking freedom from the corporate world:
“instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.”
There are multiple reflections on what a man truly “needs,” or the necessities of life. The obvious necessities are food and shelter, but having either in excess is a sign that you may be lacking in other less mentioned requirements for a happy life like companionship or finding meaningful things to do.
I’d highly recommend Walden any like minded people.