Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living Life Like Henry David Thoreau

I'm taking a philosophy class this semester and it has been one of the greatest experiences I've ever had.  It's so interesting!  No matter how warm that classroom has gotten (and it's gotten pretty warm in there), I have never felt the urge to take a nap!

For the past 2-3 weeks we've been talking about Henry David Thoreau (we've since moved on to Tolstoy).  I'm writing a paper on him right now (I'm taking a break from that paper to continue writing about him here, I guess.  Interesting distraction method, Jude!) where I'm being asked to explain what his version of a philosopher looks like.  It looks a lot like Socrates' version of a philosopher, but it has been modernized (relatively).  But that's not what I wanted to tell you about.  I want to talk to you about the wee crush I have on him.

As we read a few chapters of his book Walden, we've been learning that he believes we aren't nearly present enough in our lives.  Sure, we're physically present, but how often are we truly aware that we are alive?  In class, we talked about moments when we truly knew that we were alive.  I could think of two moments right away.

I have this vague memory of when I was between the ages of six and eight when I stopped, looked around the room, and realized that everything was real and that I was alive-- a living, breathing, human being.  If I remember correctly, up until that point I thought it was just one long movie.

The second memory is in the more recent past.  It was when I was standing on top of the Eiffel Tower about a year ago and I was looking out over Paris, having just walked up as much of the Eiffel Tower that we could (which is two levels, and then if you want to get to the very top, you need to take an elevator).  Even though it was a little bit foggy, the sun was still a burst of light through the clouds and I could look down and see herds of Parisians and tourists, just mere ants below my feet.  That's when I had that moment of clarity: I am here.  I am in France, on top of the Eiffel Tower, hundreds of miles away from home.  I am on the cusp of starting the next chapter in my life and I can't think of a better way to ring it in.  I am truly alive!

It sounds so cliche, but I feel like this information was presented to me in such a way that it wasn't.  It was just about the coolest thing I've ever learned in a classroom setting.  I felt like I was falling in love again.

I want to live my life more like Thoreau.  That's the point I wanted to make with this post.

So now, I'm eager to read more Thoreau and keep delving into philosophy (I have to take either one theology class and two philosophy classes or two theology classes and one philosophy class as my core requirement for school, so I think I will take another philosophy class... but I'll save it for study abroad!).  I'm  considering doing a philosophy minor, just because it's so darn interesting.  And I have two "useful" majors, so ha!

Any way... Thanks for Reading!


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