I didn’t put a source for this quote because I have seen several sources. It is mainly attributed to Mohandas Gandhi or Mohatma Gandhi but I have also seen other names attached.  Knowing how accurate the web is (sarcasm alert), I am not going to take the chance of attributing it but will just say…it is a great quote.

In this season of consuming, it is important to think about what we buy, where it comes from and how it is made.  The United States is among the worlds most prolific consumers, utilizing resources worldwide to keep our ever constant demand supplied.  But our demands negatively impact people’s lives in the third world by purchasing goods made from slave labor, sweatshops, and resource depletion all in the name of feeding the god…Consumerism.

Today, take a step back and rethink what you give for Christmas or Chanukah.  Think about giving of yourself, your time, or an experience over a material item.  Afterall, memories are the only thing we take with us, in the end.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. (Economy) Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau is talking about the race of men that are born into an ideal that one must work and toil the best parts of his life away in order obtain the trappings of success.  I think this is one of the most important sentences in Walden and resonated with me as I read it while in the midst of a career crisis – 15 years into a career that I realized I hated.  While I don’t agree with everything in Walden, Thoreau is right that if we allow ourselves to  get sucked into the trappings disguised as luxuries, we will toil in desperation, worried about keeping that life going and thereby limiting our choices when by fate (bad economy) or by design (unhappiness) our current jobs are no longer an option.  By simplifying we open avenues that we never knew existed and allow us to sing in ways we never before considered.

I will quote a lot from Thoreau, after all he did go into the woods and idealized the quintessential simple life in Walden.   We can learn a lot from his experience but we should also remember that his extremism, while a goal, isn’t always obtainable.  Thoreau enjoyed a luxury most of us don’t have – friends that tolerated his philisophical minimalism, in the name of Ralph Waldo Emerson who owned a home in Concord Massachusetts in which Thoreau often lived and the land on Walden Pond on which Thoreau built his famous cabin in the woods.

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As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. .  – Henry David Thoreau