Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Thoreau Didn't Know

Thoreau was brilliant. He was progressive. He had foresight that few men have ever possessed. But there is one thing he got wrong. I've been reading a couple of biographies about Thoreau, and for all his brilliance and desire to live deliberately, he missed something--took it just a step too far. Thoreau perfected the art of bachelorhood; he never took a bride and never knew the joy of offspring. He valued his parents--returning after his experiment at Walden to their home and working for his father's pencil-making company--but never had one of his own. And here, I think, is where he missed the mark. For all his talk of breathing deeply the air of one's own life, he missed out on the one thing that makes me stop most days and really absorb the beauty of my life.

With that discovery, I have decided to devote Wednesdays to what Thoreau didn't know. Each Wednesday, I'll share the joy in the little moments of family life--the moments that speak to our hearts the "inexpressible delirium of joy".  Please join me by sharing a few moments from the past week--moments with spouses and children--that Thoreau just wouldn't understand. Share them here in a comment, or link to your own blog or twitter page!

What Thoreau Didn't Know--
Thoreau didn't know about the kind of laughter the love of your life can elicit, even after 6 years of marriage.

Thoreau didn't know that two year olds will eat fists full of powdered sugar when given the right opportunity.

He didn't know that an 8 month old will make a beeline for his sister's high chair every. single. time. she sits in it to eat. Or about the hilarity that ensues as you try to pry his fingers off of it, one by one, amidst great exclamations from both.

Thoreau didn't know that sleepless nights often lead to afternoon naps with sweet baby sighs in your ear.

He wouldn't understand why the best birthday in my memory consisted of a movie with my husband and homemade cake with my children.

He didn't know about the "delirium of joy" that comes from the thousand little accomplishments that happen every day: the little man taking a step on his own, my daughter actually sharing a toy on her own with her brother (finally!), climbing ladders and sliding down slides at the park, and always the sweet smiles that come to me for no other reason than the wondrous fact that I am their mother.


  1. Did Thoreau have siblings? If not, he missed out on that too. I find much fulfillment and joy in sisterhood. (High Five)

  2. Thoreau didn't witness the fun of holidays as seen through your own children's eyes. Then again, he didn't have to hear about what toys were on the Christmas list for 3 months either.


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