Friday, August 25, 2006

Living Deliberately

Thoreau wrotethe following of his experience at Walden:
"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."

What do you think Thoreau means by this?
Do you think that you live "deliberately"? Do you think that Chris McCandless was living "deliberately"?

29 Comments:

Blogger mattheww said...

I think that Thoreau meant that he wanted to live life to its fullest, not to just go through the motions. I think that I sort of live deliberately, but not to the extent that some people (like Thoreau or McCandless did). I do sometimes go through the motions when it comes to school, and other acts that are performed out of habit, but I do try to live life to it’s fullest. I do think that Chris was living life deliberately; he had to work hard just to survive out in the wilderness and every good action that he did helped his effort to survive. It gave him a sense of elation just to survive the day, and see the new sunrise. When you can enjoy yourself that much when your just trying to survive, then you know that you’re living life to it’s fullest.

10:26 AM  
Blogger kylek said...

I agree with Matt. I believe that Thoreau means live life to the fullest, but also trys to convey the fact that you need to do what makes you as an individual happy. I don't think that I'm living deliberately. A lot of my life I am living through habit. I think that Chris McCandless did live deliberately. He tried to fulfill his life by going into the woods trying to provide for himself. The short time that he lived was probably more fulfilled than a lot of people's who live to an old age, but have no fulfillment.

10:21 AM  
Blogger CecilyJ said...

I agree with what Matt said. Thoreau believed that people had stopped appreciating what the world had to offer. Like Matt said people were going through the motions and not living life to its fullest potential. Each person must make each day worthwhile. Thoreau attempted to never let a day pass him. He lived each day with a purpose to learn something new. In "Civil Disobedience" Thoreau makes a night in jail an experience to learn about society and life in general. The key to thoreau's life was that he never took andything for granted. He valued every partof life no matter how small it was. Chris McCandless valued life in the same way (deliberately). He appreciated each berry that slid down his throat, and worshiped each moment he survived in the tundra. Chris even worshiped his last few moments on Earth, although they were most likely extremely painful. I try to live my life deliberately, however i'm not as successful as Thoreau and Chris were. I try to live deliberately by striving and achieving my goals in life. I think it is hard for people today to live deliberately because we have so much to take for granted. If i can live my life half as deliberately as Thoreau and Chris I will consider myself lucky.

10:22 AM  
Blogger AmandaF said...

I think Thoreau is saying that if one doesn't live their life to the fullest, then there is no point in living. He is also saying that one doesn't need everything to live a happy life. Chris McCandless had only the essentials on his back and he lived a happy and fulfilled life. I sometimes think I live life deliberately like Chris McCandless, but other times I don't. Sometimes I wish I could escape all of the crazy and stressful things going on in my life, and live life as one big adventure like Chris. But, then other times I think about the future and what lies ahead of me. I want to go to a good college, get a good job and eventually start a family; living life like Chris will not let me achieve my "future goals". I try to live my life deliberately in the since of living each day like it was my last. Everyone has their own unique and special dreams to make their life worth living. Some want to live life as one big adventure and live in the wilderness, and some want to plan success for the future; it all depends on what you think living life deliberately means.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Lizzie A said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Lizzie A said...

I agree with Matt about most of what he said. Including the meaning of living deliberately, Chris McCandless living deliberately (and to the fullest), and how school can take the deliberation out of the way you live your life. I think that everyone needs to try a bit harder to live life deliberately. Anyone may think that they are living life to the fullest, but I think that they are fooling themselves. I know I need to work on my deliberation towards life, but when someone has an obligation (or in most students' cases many obligations) living life to its fullest can be very difficult if not impossible.

10:28 AM  
Blogger GaryH said...

I agree with Matt when he said that Thoreau wanted to live life to the fullest. He didn’t want to just live that normal life that everyone goes through, he wanted more! I think in some aspects of life I do live deliberately, but certainly not to the extent that Thoreau did. I also want to live life to my fullest potential but there are times when I can’t do this because of rules or other obstacles in my life. Thoreau did live life to the fullest but he had to leave everyone he knew and loved to do this, I don’t think that I would be able to make such a drastic step just to live deliberately. But he did and his friends and family knew that he died happy. That is how life should be; with the last breath you take you should be happy with how you went through life.

12:47 PM  
Blogger MollyR said...

It is important to live deliberately. I agree with what Amanda said. The idea of living life to the fullest could be different for everyone. Thoreau thought living deliberately meant living in the woods. For another person, living deliberately could mean being an amazing athlete. It could also mean being very strong in academics. Chris McCandless lived his life deliberately. He wandered out be himself in the Alaskan wilderness, and he survived for more then one hundred days. It is two bad he died at such a young age. Although, living twenty four years deliberately is better than living ninety years in quiet desperation. I try to live my life deliberately. However, I think I could try harder. Chris McCandless and Thoreau definitely lived their lives to the fullest. They had a goal and they went after it. I need to work on living more deliberately. Sometimes its hard because we all have our limits.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Cassyh said...

I agree with Matt about living life to the fullest. However, I don’t' think that was all that Thoreau was trying to find. I think that he went to live in the woods to discover and define the difference between a want and a need. He saw that his wants were not making him happy and his basic needs were not recognized. Thus, going into the woods allowed him to discover his needs that can help through his life in making decisions that make him happy and live his life to the fullest. In my life, I feel that I kind of know the differences between my wants and needs, but not completely. I think, as I grow older I will begin to discover more of my wants and needs and be able to make decisions that will satisfy them, thus making me happy. Right now, I am very happy and trying to live life to the fullest. I think that Chris McCandless needed to find or discover his man hood, and going into the wild was a good way to do it. I think he needed to find what made him happy in life, but ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

1:19 PM  
Blogger shadeh said...

When Thoreau says he wishes to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, he means to live a thoughtful and meaningful life, where he faces only things that matter, and could have meaning in his life. By going to woods Thoreau demonstrates that life can be lived without material things. Basically he wanted to learn the deeper meaning of life. Chris McCandless did this as well but to more of an extreme. McCandless like Thoreau wanted to live deliberately, which he truly accomplished in his life, and head out into the wild. Even though it ended tragically, he valued his time in the wild. And as much as I would like to say I live my life deliberately, the truth is many people now a days don’t. Now with all the high-tech, “material” things out, it is hard to go through a day without naming about a hundred material objects you used. Unfortunately, many people, including myself, have not found a deeper meaning in their life like Thoreau and McCandless. Hopefully one day we can all get more out of life like those two men did.

1:31 PM  
Blogger umbertok said...

My congratulations to matt, everyone is agreeing with him and I must as well. Thoreau and Chris most have lived there lives deliberately and to its fullest. I, however, think that they were both nuts. Who in modern day society, besides the extremists and the crazy people of today would honestly give up all there worldly belongings and leave everything and everyone behind to find some deeper meaning to their life. Sure the idea of it sounds great, finding some deeper truth to our life; but I don’t think anyone of us would do it or could do it. We are too attached to modern day society and our belongs.

1:31 PM  
Blogger emily k said...

I agree with Molly about each person has a different way of living deliberately. Chris McCandless lived deliberately and died before he could really make a difference. I think that people will do better to live a short fulfilling life than a long life with no meaning to it. I think Chris lived a deliberate short life. I also agree with a Cassy. Living deliberately is like living life to the fullest but that was not all Thoreau was trying to find. The world has something to teach everyone and it seems that Thoreau was trying to find that as well. Thoreau seemed to be trying to define and separate what consumes the world: greed and necessity. By going into the woods, he seemed to be able to find the difference and change his life so he was living his life to the fullest and deliberately. I think I try to live deliberately but there is always room for improvement. I try to life with a purpose instead of letting life pass idly by. I do not always doing that though. However, when thinking of some of the activities that the human race does it is so mind numbing that I want to make a change and live deliberately.

1:38 PM  
Blogger karlak said...

I think that living delibrately is like what Molly said in that it is different for everyone. For me living delibrately is not living in the woods or in Alaska, but it is doing my best and making a statement about my life. I try to live delibrately but again as Molly said everyone has limits on what they can do and therefore living delibrarely is different for everyone. I think that when Thoreau was talking about living delibrately he was like Matt said, he meant people need to live their life to the fullest. They can't just sit on the sidelines and be benchwarmers but they need to be in the game scoring goals and having fun with their life. In some ways i too sit on the bench when I should be playing the game, especially in school. Reading Thoreau has really encouraged me to get off the bench and head into the game, the game of life that is. I also think that Chris McCamdless was living his life to the fullest. He went and as Dodge says "Grabed life by the horns." Chris choose to do something with his life and in his twenty-four years he lived more delibrately and passionately then some people live in ninety-four years. In the end I think everyone can live delibrately they just need to let lose and get off the bench and into the game.

3:12 PM  
Blogger MaureenM said...

I believe what Thoreau ment was that he wanted to live like fully and freely. He didnt want to live under a govorment or under laws that gave him guid lines to what he had to do in life. I agree with what matt said about how he had to work hard for himself to keep himself alive. He didnt have to work under anyone else to acheive his goal.

3:26 PM  
Blogger amberh said...

I also agree with Molly, that everyone’s definition of how living deliberately applies to him or her is different. I think that what Thoreau meant when he said this, was that he wanted to learn how to live his life by himself without other people forcing their beliefs upon him. Therefore, he went into the woods to find his definition of living deliberately. In a sense I think everyone needs to do this, not necessarily go in to the woods. Instead, find out what you want out of life and then go for it, no matter what other people say. A great example of this is Chris McCandless, he found what he wanted from life, to go into the wild, and then went for his goal. I try and live deliberately by living a life that makes me happy, but sometimes I do get caught up in the material things that the world has to offer.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff B. said...

I agree with what Matt. I think that Thoreau meant that he wanted to live his life to the absolute fullest, and not just saying it but actually doing it. I think that sometimes I live deliberately, just taking life by the way it comes. I think that Chris was living deliberately; he really was working hard and began to live life to the fullest, by experiencing life as it came and living through new activities.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Alyssa W. said...

I think that this means that Thoreau left everything that was material in his life to live to what he thought was the fullest and not have to feel held back by society or the people that surrounded his life. I try to live life as freely as I can. There are some things that I wish that I could do but feel restricted because of school, my parents or even myself. I do have a goal though to do everything that I want to do before I die. Maybe I am living deliberately but not in the ways that Thoreau did. Chris McCandless definitely lived deliberately. He gave up the life that so many people wish for to have a life that he wanted more of, more freedom, self-content and independence. He didn’t worry so much about the people around him, or the possessions that he had. His focus was entirely on him and his own happiness.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Scott A said...

I believe that Walden meant to live with all of your heart. Chris McCandless lived his life to the fullest potential. Anyone can live life to the fullest in any condition if they are truly happy. Chris lived life to the max because he did what he loved. I always try to live life to the fullest but I am often caught up in limitations by school, parents, and coaches, and even my own insecurities. My insecurities resctrict me the most.

5:06 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

I think Thoreau is saying that he went out into the woods to try to live a more exciting life. He wanted to learn about life and what it has to offer. He didn't want to come to the end of his life and discover that he had not lived life to its fullest. He wanted to find "the essential facts of life" before it was over. The only way for him to find what he needed to find was to go into the woods and live in solitude. This situation is very similar to Chris McCandless's adventure into the Alaskan wilderness. Chris wanted to live deliberately so he felt to do this he had to go out and survive in Alaska. He knew he was risking his life but in the end he felt he had lived his life to the fullest, he truely accomplished more than most can say they have accomplished in a lifetime. Dieing at the young age of 24, Chris found the "essential facts of life" which most people will never find if they lived to be 100. I feel that I have not lived deliberately. For me to live my life to the fullest I do not think that I need to do anything as extreme as Chris and Thoreau. I think that I just need to get away from my limited life. I hope to someday do this so that when I die and can say I lived a full and complete life, so that I can say I truely lived deliberately.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Brittany F said...

Like many other people have said, I agree with Matt as well. I think he made a very good point by saying Thoreau wanted to live his life to the fullest. He wanted to get away from the things that everyday people rely so heavily on and really prove that you could live without them and still be content with the life you made for yourself. These "things" have made Thoreau so caught up that like he said he realizes he has not lived and plans on getting himself to stop relying on material things while he lives in the woods. I think that I live on the edge of being deliberate and not. For example when I set goals for myself I do everything in my power to achieve the goals I set. When I injured my knee a year and a half ago i went to physical therapy every other day for a year. It was hard work but I had it in my head that i was going to get back. Also when it comes to school I strive to be the best student I can be. Although sometimes when the situation gets tough or I can't find the time I slack off a bit. For example I need to talk to college coaches about playing for them and attending their school but I have been too caught up with school and soccer I have not found the time. I think that Chris McCandless did live deliberately because he had the goal in his mind that he was going to live without the everyday essentials of life and he proved for a little bit anyways that he could do it. Although things didn't end up as planned, he was very pleased with his accomplishments of living on his own and everything that came with it.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Michael M. said...

Like most have said, I think Thoreau wanted us to live life to the fullest. The woods and nature in general, is Thoreau’s idea of the important facts of life. I try to live deliberately and I enjoy living life as it comes. I really like what molly said about Chris, “living twenty four years deliberately is better than living ninety years in quiet desperation.” That is very true, as long as he enjoyed life and got everything he needed out of it.

7:10 PM  
Blogger jessie-w said...

Thoreau and McCandless went into the world to fully live their lives. Thoreau went into the wild to excape the limitations that man had put onto society. He wanted a life where he could make the rules and live by is coconscience. He wanted to find the reason as to why he was put on this earth. I think this is what he means by deliberately.

Chris McCandless wanted to live life deliberately. Growing up he had no idea what the meaning of life was. It wasn't untill he went into the wild that he found what he thought was the meaning of life. Whether or not this is your opinion of living life deliberately is up to one's own opionon, Chris was happy till his last breath. He knew he was dieing and he still loved life. To me that can be living life deliberately.

I don't think I live life as deliberately as Thoreau and McCandless, and I aslo don't think one has to go into the woods to find it. I believe I live a happy medium. I am thankful for my life and try to live each day like it's my last. I just don't take it to the extream.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Jordan L said...

Thoreau found by living simplisticly on the foundamental necisities of life, that he could truly find what life was all about. When you live out in the woods, life consists of just finding a way to survive. By reflecting on his past and materialistic wantings, he realizes that you don't have to have materialistic things in order to live. Life is about living it to the fullest and realizing all it has to offer. When Thoreau went to the woods he discovered by leaving his prior life, he found that the things he considered everything in his life was yet nothing. By going to the woods and being one with nature and himself he came to terms with the fact that he had not lived. He didn't come to learn or discover but rather to reflect.

7:37 PM  
Blogger keithw said...

Thoreau wanted people to know that the little things in life really matter and not clothes and cars and unnecessary possessions. Chris McCandless lived his life deliberately in my eyes and also lived his life to the fullest. Thoreau died knowing that he lived his life deliberately. I try to live my life deliberately but it’s just very difficult with peer pressure and other things in life. When Chris went into the wild and lived off of him and the world he was living his life to the fullest.

7:57 PM  
Blogger JasonW1 said...

Many people today do not have the ability to just live off of nature like people used to way back. I think that Thoreau and Chris wanted to live life to the fullest and see if they could survive and learn from the wilderness. I think most people today including myself, do not live diliberately and take advantage or our resources because as we all know, our lives are much easier than they used to be for others way back. Technology is a big reason why people do live this way because any information about anything we want to know is right there in our hands but it's our decision to decide what we want to do with it.

8:08 PM  
Blogger danielle s said...

I think Thoreau is trying to rely the message that you only get one life, spend it well and live it rather than just go day in and day out with the same routine. I live deliberately. I try my hardest to find the good and make even the worst of things okay. I am guilty of going through the motions especially in situations like school. Life is full of obligations things that we consider that we go through the motions in, those things however will someday allow us to live our lives more deliberatley. Chris led his life very deliberately, to somewhat of an extreme. He choose not to live an average life nor to deal with the "obligations" that I metioned earlier. I would never go to the extreme lifestyle that he choose yet I don't think down of it, I believe it is a sure way to fulley enjoy this beautiful life.

8:24 PM  
Blogger BillM said...

I think Matt Weems is the man because he just started this blog with a most excellent response in which everyone agreed with. I also think Thoreau is alluding to living life to the fullest in being deliberate, but also to live life the best way possible to ones own opinion of “the best way possible.” Many people in life never stop think about how they are living their life but continue on doing so; living in their small bubble of what they’ve always known and been around. No matter what anyone says there is always so much more that could be done in ones life that people never consider or ever care to look at. I myself do not believe that I am living my life to it’s full potential. I enjoy my life, have fun, and experience a lot, but outside of my High school life and friends and family there is so much more of anything and everything. I think there is a very minimal fraction of people on Earth that live their life deliberately and consider and plan everything they do. Chris McCandless , though I do not agree with what he did, lived his life to his own opinion of the best possible way. He had an idea of what he wanted planned it out and did everything as he planned and intentionally lived the remainder of his life.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Philip M. said...

I agree with Matt, not only did Thoreau mean that he wanted to live life to its fullest; he intentionally made decisions and acted on them. The choices he made were straight from his hart, no opinions or emotions from others led him to any conclusions. Although his plans might not have had the affect he planed, I believe he was richly satisfied with the endeavors he had accomplished in his time. One Quote I live by is “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a wile, you might miss it.” (Ferris Buller). From my point of view Thoreau made this quote into a way of life, and good for him.

9:29 PM  
Blogger zoek said...

I think part of what Thoreau means is that if you never do anything on your own than you're not really living. Part of living is learning, and Thoreau mentions "teaching himself," you have to be independent sometimes and learn for yourself, in order to live your life. I think living in the world that we do today, I live far from deliberatly. Independence is hard to achieve, it seems everyday I depend on either technology or those around me. So I would have to say that no, I dont consider myself to be living deliberatly. As far as I'm concerned, Thoreau would have been a big fan of Chris McCandless. Chris lived about as deliberatly as it gets. He took with him only the essentials for survival, taught himself how to live and eat off the land, and completed what he had hoped to do before he died. His trip to Alaska sounds dangerously alike to Thoreau's journey to the woods.

8:23 PM  

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