ThoreauI've always loved Thoreau's writings, and in particular Walden is my favorite. One of my treasured passages and one that I've quoted at different stages of my life comes from the second chapter.
"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."
It has always been my belief--and this quote presents it well--that in order to live life to the fullest, one must occasionally slough off everything, in order to determine what is necessary to live life. The key word in this quote is "deliberately," and as such is why I've chose to embolden the word. It is important because of how the word is taken in context. If you examine the etymology of the word, it has roots that mean "balance."
Frequently, we humans end up carrying far too much in our packs and we lose our focus on what truly makes our lives balanced. We find ourselves panicked and worried over things that truly mean very little. Just as one would observe the intricacies of a painting, we are too close to a it, and the beauty of the overall canvas becomes lost in the details that we are so focused on. Only by moving away from the canvas and squashing our toes in the grass and mud of life, can we find what it truly takes to find balance in our life.
Sometimes, only by throwing off everything, can we find what is necessary, by picking things up one by one as they're needed to discover what is truly necessary, and what is really just flotsam in our lives. That is why--numerous times in my life--I will break all ties for a time, and run off into the metaphysical forest to see what pieces of my life are really needed, and what parts are not, and--most importantly--what parts have become toxic and need to be excised.
I live life to its fullest, by living deliberately and sucking the marrow from it in every moment.