College Papers

In a simple, unique and generous lifestyle. To

In Walden and Civil Disobedience, Thoreau emphasizes living a purposeful, individual life. To live life to its intended purpose, one must live a simple, unique and generous lifestyle. To come to this conclusion, Thoreau lived on a pond alone for about two years. There he observed nature, and the nature of humans. He found that overall humanity is heightened when each individual lives freely according to themselves. When each person focuses on themselves and lives as individuals, they come together perfectly into humanity. One must find one’s true self by living freely. One should make decisions uniquely. To live freely one must make their own choices. They must utilize their own logic when deciding every choice in their life. Thoreau observes that “most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have” (78). When a person only makes decisions based on what others have and do, they are not thinking for themselves or living their own lives. They succumb to the status quo and lose their individuality. A follower of the social norms becomes enslaved to them. An important part of humanity is individualism. Thoreau insists of man that “he considers, not what is truly respectable, but what is respected” (64). A person will become obsessed with how they are perceived and forget how they are unique and what is important to them. To live freely a person must retain their individuality. Thoreau adds, “it is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes” (65). If people did not judge each other on the appearance of their clothing, they would be obligated to do so by their personalities and actions. If everyone were to understand each other by their actions and personalities, people would live free of stereotypes and misconceptions. To live completely free of preconceived notions, all people must become familiar with a person before concluding anything. Thoreau adds that he desires “that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible” but he encourages them each to find their own way of life (114). By promoting individualism, Thoreau encourages people to live as liberated as possible from social constraints and self-constraints to better their lives. One should focus on oneself by living simply. To live a free life, a person should lose what distracts them from expanding their sense of the world. To help this, one should live a simplistic life. To constantly live a simple life, one should have limited luxuries. Thoreau advocates that “most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only indispensable, but positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind” (56). Luxuries detract from focusing on oneself because they are unnecessary to life. A person will compare oneself to others and try to conform with fads; really one should choose how they live for oneself. When focused on oneself and not preoccupied with luxuries, a person will have more time to contemplate one’s life and humanity. People should all live simply because extravagencies are not necessary to worship God in. Thoreau sarcastically asks, “If my jacket and trousers, my hat and shoes, are fit to worship God in, they will do; will they not?” (66). One does not require glorified attire to praise God in because as long as one praises God one can look however one pleases. Additionally Thoreau adds that people should “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes” (66). When it is necessary to wear new clothes for something, there exists judgement of other people. The wearing of new clothes changes the person and their base personality and values are not being respected. But, a person living simply can open their mind more to worship God and highlighting their personal morals instead of luxuries. A person living simply will also find ways of bettering one’s life and others’ lives. One should improve life with ingenious effort. To live as freely as possible, one must also live selflessly for humanity. Thoreau describes his generosity, “for many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow storms and rain storms, and did my duty faithfully. . . where the public heel testifies to their utility” (60). Thoreau gives back to others by making nature look welcoming for human use. By doing a few voluntary deeds, one can better the lives of many others. But also one must constantly strive to improve one’s own life, to get everything possible out of life. Thoreau reveals he has”been anxious to improve the nick of time, . . . to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line” (85). At every moment, one should strive with the utmost power to gain as much as possible from every moment lived. One should live in the present, knowing the inevitability to change a decision and the responsibility to augment the future. Thoreau advises, “I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it” (81). Every person should live positively and optimistically. In every moment is a learning experience and a chance to improve oneself thus improving humanity. A person should work diligently but self-improving, simultaneously. To live to the highest degree, a person should be happy with every action made because one possesses the authority over one’s life. While trying to improve one’s life, one should take a step back and contemplate what has been done and what one is doing to affirm simplicity and individuality. Thoreau recommends striving to be a true philosopher. He specifies, “to be a philosopher is. . . to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust” (57). By living simplistically, one becomes a philosopher, observing and gaining knowledge from the world and surrounding people. In philosophy a person truly discovers who one is and what kind of person one strives to be. One forms opinions of one’s own, becoming a free-thinking individual. By becoming a philosopher, one becomes free. Through personal fortitude and determination, one can live one’s respective free life by enhancing their individuality, simplicity, and generosity. Because of his experiment at Walden Pond, Thoreau becomes more enlightened on the purpose of life and its fullest potential. Thoreau describes constant voluntary philanthropy while being a unique individual. Being an individual is a severe importance because without individuality, there would exist no innovation or progress to humanity. Thoreau speaks a truth that every person is called to be leaders because of their individuality. Uniqueness in people is the example of beauty: rare and precious, which individuality helps people see. He acknowledges the goodness in diversity, an essential to the longevity of humanity. By consciously striving to live with simple, individualistic, and magnanimous principles, one truly lives freely.