I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 15 April 2010

In Praise Of Non-Doing

There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing, like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so I had my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest. THOREAU Walden

(Quoted by Jon-Kabat-Zinn in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are.)

5 comments:

George McHenry said...

Thanks to you, and to Kabat-Zinn, for returning us to Thoreau and a kind of wisdom that is seemingly absent from our world of productivity and speed addiction. I share Thoreau's sentiment, as you can tell from my own blog, "Transit Notes" (transit-notes.blogspot.com), which I am releasing to the general public today.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

See, my problem is not this sort of "not doing," but that's I'm a too-regular and long addicted practitioner.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Have been to Walden Pond - I can imagine it would be all too easy to follow that philosophy there. But what about the washing up?

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I've always loved the line about it not being time subtracted, but so much more than his usual allowance. Such a pleasure to reread this quote. Thank you.

The Solitary Walker said...

Weaver - washing up time is a great time to practice mindfulness...