Image via wikipedia
Thoreau‘s final paragraph of Walden includes the line, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” I am sure he meant this both metaphorically and literally. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on the metaphor. I’m conscious of and grateful for this precious bit of life I’ve been given. BUT, I have been slacking off on the other part — getting up early. These excerpts from “Walden” always reignite my determination to “make-up with mornings” and even learn to love them.
…All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.” Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me…
…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 soundest sleep. I know of 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, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour…
This is a “mind map” of the complete Excess Emancipation Project. The daily habits I am integrating; new beliefs I am creating; and the “broad strokes” of my 101 day journey are depicted here.
I committed to this vision on December 11, 2011 and it will be completed on March 21, 2012. This future I am creating is really an integration of habits I once had and/or things I’ve always wanted to do.
So far, it hasn’t been particularly easy. I see a lot of blogs out there about this person’s great new life on a raw food diet or that person’s successful purging of the possessions and I get a little frustrated. It seems like these things came easy to those people. Maybe I’m not reading far enough. Maybe they just didn’t talk about the crying.
One thing is for sure: As I look at my Dad’s desk from when I was a kid, or his galoshes from when he was a kid, I am acutely aware of tough times ahead. I am so habituated to attributing sentimental value to inanimate objects, it feels kinda like I’m getting rid of him, not just some stuff. Granted, I will be hopefully giving any/all family heirlooms to my sisters and brothers, but I know there will be a few things left over that I will have to face selling or giving away.
And it’s not just stuff from Dad and Mom (like her tin dollhouse from the 50s) a lot of my stuff are things I have picked up during my travels to Paris, Morocco, Indonesia, Costa Rica and more. Or they bring back memories of hijinks or lost loves. I suppose this is the inevitable crux of the issue.
I am committed to getting free of having to “tend” all this stuff, though. It’s so much work to dust, house, store, maintain and care for and about this inanimate menagerie. I have always fantasized about being free of it — about living a life more like Thoreau at Walden Pond — and I am determined to get there.
(Dear Universe, Please don’t infer that I want to be put in a position where I have to build my own house with just an axe and old nails from my neighbor’s shanty.)