Read Thoreau: I Went to the Woods

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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

From Walden Chapter 2 “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”


For Discussion and Journaling:

  • What does Thoreau mean when he says he wants to shave life close and “reduce it to its lowest terms?”  What did he hope this would do?
  • Why do you think Thoreau moved closer to nature to conduct his experiment? 
  • What has your environment taught you? Have you ever visited or lived in a different environment”? What did that environment teach you or help you understand?
  • Do you live deliberately? Deeply? Simply?