How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard
This philosophy of mindfulness and immersion in the richness of life has been increasingly eroded by our culture’s cult of productivity, which eats away at our ability to truly see life as it unfolds before us.
A wonderful children’s story contrasts two different approaches to life — one prioritizing productivity and one worshiping wonder. It tells the tale of Thoreau and his unnamed friend, who decide to meet in the town of Fitchburg one summer evening, thirty miles away. Henry’s friend insists that the train is the most efficient way to get there and resolves to work until he has enough money to buy the 90-cent ticket, doing chores for neighbors. But Henry decides that walking, while less “efficient,” is the better way to get to Fitchburg — more present and full of wonder.
While Henry’s friend sweeps the post office for 5 cents, Henry walks five miles and carves a walking stick.While his friend earns 15 cents ridding Mr. Hawthorne’s garden of weeds, Henry collects ferns and flowers to press in his book.While his friend climbs bookcases to arrange Mr. Emerson’s study for another 15 cents, Henry climbs a tree and enjoys the view.While his friend cleans out Mrs. Thoreau’s chicken house for 10 cents, Henry takes delight in a bird’s nest he discovers in a swamp 12 miles from Fitchburg.On they go, each about his strategy of choice, until Henry’s friend finally races to catch the packed train, having earned his fare, while Henry takes a refreshing dive into a pond 7 miles from Fitchburg.
In the final scene, in which the two friends finally meet in Fitchburg, the author – Johnson’s gift for saying so much in so few words and in such subtlety shines with the utmost brilliance: His friend was sitting in the moonlight when Henry arrived. “The train was faster,” he said. Henry took a small pail from his pack. “I know,” he smiled. “I stopped for blackberries.”
There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by! The art of living lies in how we choose to pay attention.
This story is from a blog that I absolutely love – Read more here