I find it funny that now, during one of the most exhausting and stressful weeks of my life to date, I am reading Walden each night before going to bed.
Why is this funny?
Well, if you’re unfamiliar with Walden (which 90% of the phlebomists at the plasma center are), it is the part-philosophical, part-memoir account by Henry David Thoreau of his two-year stint living life as simply as possible: in the woods, in a house built by himself, spending his days mostly in solitude amongst nature and books.
Sounds dreamy, right?
Meanwhile, I spent my day today hosting my social dance group’s performance in front of the school (no one fell on their face, thanks for asking), grading stacks of book projects made up of odd containers like ice cream buckets and water bottles, and telling a particularly pessimistic 7th grader to keep his negative opinions to himself.
Yeah, I need this book.
Honestly though, even though it’s laughable how different my current life is from Thoreau’s, it has helped me to try and squeeze in some sane moments of meditation every day. The book may be pretty dense, but I’ve found that it’s opening my eyes this week to things I’m usually too rushed to pay attention to, like the sound of the insects whirring or the wind rushing through my hair. Yesterday, it had me wandering outside in a sunny field of dandelions by our vegetable garden, relishing the feel of the sunshine against my face.
It may have been only for five minutes, but heaven knows I needed those five minutes.
So many people put off reading the classics because they’re “boring” or “too long” or “difficult,” but there is a reason why these books have been such a big part of the literature world as we know it for so long.
Thoreau said it much better when he put it this way:
“Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated by trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing; yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tiptoe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to.”
So, in the stressful times like this, I find I need to read MORE, not less.
Have you read any books lately that have made you “stand on tiptoe to read?”