Americans are often obsessed with big dreams, economic success and getting ahead. Our history includes capitalist icons like J.D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. But it also includes Henry David Thoreau.
The Virtues of Daydreaming (Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker)
What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel (B&N Review)
New: Leisure and Productivity, essay by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Chokecherries & Wild Grapes on the Erie Canal (Lanigan)
From Wild Fruits (Thoreau on Cranberrying):
I expected little of this walk, yet it did pass through the side of my mind that perhaps, on this very account it would turn out well, as also the advantage of having a purpose, however small, to be accomplished — of letting your deliberate wisdom and foresight, however small, in the house to some extent direct and control your steps… I have always reaped unexpected and incalculable advantages from carrying out at last, however tardily, any little enterprise which my genius suggested to me long ago as a thing to be done, some step to be take, however slight, out of the usual course….
Our employment generally is tinkering, mending the old worn-out teapot of society… Many of our days should be spent, not in vain expectations and lying on our oars, but in carrying out deliberately and faithfully the hundred little purposes which every man’s genius must have suggested to him. Let your life not be wholly without object, though it is only to ascertain the flavor of a cranberry, for it will not be only the quality of an insignificant berry that you will have tasted, but the flavor of your life to that extent, and it will be such as sauce as no wealth can buy.
…I enjoyed this cranberrying very much, notwithstanding the wet and cold, and the swamp seemed to be yielding its crop to me alone, for there are none else to pluck and value it. I told the proprietor once that they grew here, but he, learning that they were not abundant enough to be gathered for the market, has probably never thought of them since. I am the only person in the township who regards them or knows of them, and I do not regard them in the light of their pecuniary value. I have no doubt I felt richer wading there with my two pockets full, treading on wonders at every step, than any farmer going to market with a hundred bushels which he had raked, or hired to be raked.