Monday, April 27
“I never fastened my door night or day, though I was to be absent several days; not even when the next fall I spent a fortnight in the woods of Maine. And yet my house was more respected than if it had been surrounded by a file of soldiers. The tired rambler could rest and warm himself by my fire, the literary amuse himself with the few books on my table, or the curious, by opening my closet door, see what was left of my dinner, and what prospect I had of a supper. Yet, though many people of every class came this way to the pond, I suffered no serious inconvenience from these sources, and I never missed anything but one small book, a volume of Homer…
You who governs public affairs, what need have you to employ punishments? Love virtue, and the people will be virtuous. The virtues of a superior man are like the wind; the virtues of a commen man are like the grass; the grass, when the wind passes over it, bends.”
Thoreau, The Village
We tend to get busy living life and become self-absorbed. But life has a way of making you stop sometimes, right in your tracks, and notice someone.
Journal: Write an essay on someone in your life (someone you know or even perhaps a stranger you’ve noticed in town, anyone, really) for whom your life is worth pausing for a moment. Who is this person? What makes them so compelling to you? What do they need that you could provide for them?
Tuesday, April 28
“‘For instance,’ Stoppel continues, ‘Carl didn’t want to fly into the bush alone. His big dream, originally, was to go off into the woods with some beautiful woman. He was hot for at least a couple of different girls who worked with us, and he spent a lot of time and energy trying to talk Sue or Barbara or whoever into accompanying him — which in itself was pretty much pure fantasyland. There was no way it was going to happen. I mean, at the pipeline camp where we worked, Pump Station 7, there were probably forty guys for every woman. But Carl was a dreamin kind of dude, and right up until he flew into the Brooks Range, he kept hoping and hoping and hoping that one of these girls would change her mind and decide to go with him. Carl was the sort of guy who would have unrealistic expectations that someone would eventually figure out he was in trouble and cover for him. Even as he was on the verge of starving, he probably still imagined that Big Sue was going to fly in at the last minute with a planeload of food and have this wild romance with him.’”
Into the Wild, Chapter 8
I’ve been in communication with many of you since we have been out of school. Someone suggested that we take a float trip or organize a get-together at the lake after the social isolation restrictions are lifted.
Journal: Describe the perfect meal you would want to have at our celebration. Tell me everything you want, from the appetizers, to the main courses, to the sides and the dessert. No limits. What do you want?
Wednesday, April 29
“White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light. If thery were permanently congealed, and small enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors; but being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors forever, we disregard them, and run after the diamond of Kuhinoor. They are too pure to have market value; they contain no muck. How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent than our characters, are they! We never learned meanness of them. How much fairer than the pool before the farmer’s door, in which his ducks swim! Hither the clean wild ducks come. Nature has no human inhabitant who appreciates her. The birds with their plumage and their notes are in harmony with the flowers, but what youth or maiden conspires with the wild luxuriant beauty of Nature? She flourishes most alone, far from the towns where they reside. Talk of heaven! Ye disgrace earth.”
~Thoreau, The Ponds
My grandmother has been in isolation since the pandemic started (I think we are going on six weeks now, but I lose count). She has a sliding glass door to the outside but it is locked by the maintenance crew so we can’t hug her or touch her in any way. We just go outside her glass door and wave and kiss her on the glass and bring her flowers to look at. It is a really, really hard thing to do for us. I can’t even imagine what it is like for her. She is locked in a room and has been for many weeks.
Journal: Do you have a loved one whom you cannot reach because of this situation? If so, how are you dealing with it? If not, tell me how you would occupy your time if you had to be alone in a room by yourself for several months.