To celebrate the existence of this great naturalist, and that friendship prevails between all beings in this world, we quote a short passage from his journal.
The journals of Henry David Thoreau /
The beloved transcendtalist and eco-anarchist Henry David Thoreau would turn 196 years old this year, and because of this, the Brainpickings site is honouring him by selecting some of the most moving passages from his journals. In these texts, Thoreau considers the essence of friendship, what it means to be human and the inextricable connection we have with non-human beings, which are as worthy of our sympathy and respect as our human friends.
To Thoreau, the essence of friendship lies in cultivating true compassion (in the sense of “putting oneself in another’s shoes”). Once, for example, he observed a pinecone he had picked up a few days before, opening in his bedroom. From this apparently mundane event, he extracted a deep meditation on existence and the bonds of compassion, through a squirrel. “That uncanny gift from translating the minutia of the physical world into timeless wisdom on the metaphysical is the defining characteristic of his journal”, writes Maria Popova.
If you would be convinced how differently armed the squirrel is naturally for dealing with pitch pine cones, just try to get one off with your teeth. He who extracts the seeds from a single closed cone with the aid of a knife will be constrained to confess that the squirrel earns his dinner. It is a rugged customer, and will make your fingers bleed. But the squirrel has the key to this conical and spiny chest of many apartments. He sits on a post, vibrating his tail, and twirls it as a plaything.
But so is a man commonly a locked-up chest to us, to open whom, unless we have the key of sympathy, will make our hearts bleed.
This sensibility towards other feeling creatures permeates all of Thoreau’s diaries. After all, he was the one who went to live at Walden moved by the desire to understand the behaviours of nature and the radical correspondence between all visible things and human thoughts.
All parts of nature belong to one head, as the curls of a maiden’s hair. How beautifully flow the seasons as one year, and all streams as one ocean!
The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 is an absolute beauty. One of those books we visit over and over throughout life seeking written nature and essential reminders. Reminders as valuable as the one quoted in this text.Tagged: Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Thoreau journals, Agents of Change, Warriors & Rebels, writers