How Henry David Thoreau Inspired Me To Kick Ass At Life (And Travel The World)

In Inspiration, Quotes by Jesse Anderson0 Comments

Henry David Thoreau was a mastermind in his own right. In Walden; or, Life in the Woods, Thoreau writes about nature, economy and his two year excursion living in the woods on Walden Pond. These words by Thoreau are in such alignment with who I am at the core of my spirit and what Inspiration Travels is at its core, that I’m making this the official quote of Inspiration Travels. When we need inspiration in its purest written form, this is it:

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our deepest sleep. I know no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, more worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done. 

“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 practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life, to live 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. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it.”

-Henry David Thoreau

I like to replace the words went to the woods with traveled across the world. It fits better. So good that it describes the last five years of my life, from meanness to the sublime.

It’s hard to choose a favorite line from the passage, but one of my favorites is “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” If I had a purpose for life, it would be mastering the highest of arts. I think somewhere in all of us, our purpose is to affect the quality of the day—not only for ourselves, but for others. Another cornerstone of Inspiration Travels is to be conscious with an infinite expectation of the dawn. One could define inspiration as such.

I imagine the traveler waking for the sunrise, meeting it with a smile and letting it guide the way into infinite possibility. The inspired life is the deliberate life.


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