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Monday, October 20, 2008

Living deliberately

Posted by: Paul Gardener
A posse ad esse (From possibility to reality)


I went back through some of the things that I had written some time back, hoping to find some nugget that I thought would add to the dialogue here. I have a couple of posts that I though may be appreciated here, but one truly stood out to me. It was one of my personal favorites from May of 2007 and I think it holds just as true for me today as it did then. I hope you enjoy.

I was led the other day by the hands of inspiration. A little deep huh? Don't you sometimes feel like the stars align and you know that you are supposed to do something? I do. For whatever reason, the other day I was struck with the idea of digging up and reading my copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I suppose that it was a culmination of a lot of things. As I began making incremental changes in the way that I live and what I want to focus my energies on, I have become more and more in tune with the choices that I make, and perhaps more to the point the choices that I don't make. The thing that brings me to Thoreau is a specific idea I took from it nearly 20 years ago when I first read it; an idea that I seem to just now be implementing, the idea that we could live deliberately.

What so I mean by this? Don't we get up deliberately? Don't we choose what to wear? We make the choice to buy what we buy. Don't we? To a certain degree of course we do. But there is, I believe a certain portion of our day that we just run on autopilot. How often do we just pick up something quick for lunch because we didn't think to make lunch the night before? Or perhaps we make two or three trips to the same store over a weekend because we can just jump in the car and run out real quick when we need something? I know I do these things all the time. When I say we can live deliberately I think the biggest point that I want to make is that we are the only ones that can plan and live our lives on purpose. As I have begun to focus more and more on my choices and my actions in life, I notice more and more the times that I am not making conscious decisions. It takes time, and in a lot of ways slows me down. But you know what? it's nice to know when I do make a decision that I am making it not my reflex. Whenever I walk into the kitchen I flick on the light, even in the middle of the day, that's a reflex. When I realize it and turn it back off, I am living deliberately. When I lay down at night and flick on the television, that's a reflex. When I turn it back off in favor of reading or writing, I am living deliberately.

I guess what I am really getting at is that although I am a long way from say, "No Impact Man", I can make a difference everyday by living deliberately and making choices. I can choose to eat a healthier diet, I can choose to ride my bike to work, I can choose to play a game of chess with my son rather than veg-out to another cartoon with him. In short, I can choose to be the power that directs my life rather than simply floating along the river of life and enjoying the view. It will be a long course I think, but so far, it's been interesting.
I'd love to hear your opinions on this, and maybe some examples that you've seen in your life of the reflex-vs-deliberate paradox.

A couple of quotes from Walden to round out the entry, if you've never read it, don't delay, go to the library and get one today. Or read some of it here.

When we consider what, to use the words of the catechism, is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life, it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left.
~The Economy (ch.1), Walden


•I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~Where I lived and what I lived for (ch.2), Walden
Until next time. Be well...

P~

4 comments:

claudia said...

I have always had this quote in my mind..." Do things slowly and deliberately." I don't know where it came from, but I have always liked it. Now if I could only do that instead of just automatically switching something on when I walk into a room...

Emily said...

I loved this post. I have a newborn and a two year old and I often read while I am breastfeeding. I just picked up Walden after not reading it since college five years ago. It is such an eye opener. Thanks for this post!

Karen said...

This is a wonderful post -- I just dug up my copy of Walden not too long ago and have been meaning to take another look. Now seems like a good time.

Karen said...

great post, paul. glad to see you're "waking up." i feel like ... where i have i been the last 10 or more years of my life? (i'm about to turn 29) ... living on autopilot, as in a stupor. for me, it was eating whatever. i've certainly changed lots of that, from becoming a vegetarian to eating locally and seasonally (my newest goals). it's amazing how much junk i was putting into my body without ever realizing it. now i watch other people do it and it's so hard for me to sit still. i don't, really .. that's why i'm putting volunteer time into helping others, at a local farm, learn about food and food choices, too. and the fact that there IS a choice beyond the fluorescent, HFCS-laden shelves at your everyday way-overhuge "market." i've also been reading a lot of emerson lately ... ; )