Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July ... 'Debt Decluttering' and Connecting to the Simple Life

It's the Fourth of July, America's 239th birthday. Happy Independence Day!

And July 4, 1845 is also the day Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to experience the simple life. The lessons he learned during those two years are still worth reflecting upon today.

The good citizens living in Greece, Puerto Rico, and in cities and states all across America are now facing up to the effects of burdensome debt in slow growing and non-inflationary economies.

So let's turn back in time as the non-economist and 19th century author Thoreau has something meaningful to say to all of us on America's 239th birthday.

And for those who didn't heed his teachings when first reading 'Walden' in high school, let's take another look.

Thoreau, the First Declutterer has this to say about the simple life:

"WITH household decluttering now a national obsession, maybe Americans should pause this Fourth of July and remember the nation’s original domestic minimalist, Henry David Thoreau.

He moved to a small cabin on Walden Pond near Concord, Mass., 170 years ago today, on July 4, 1845, intent on living as simply as he could. Thoreau fit everything he wanted into a dwelling the size of a tool shed.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” he exhorted in “Walden,” the classic account of his two years at the pond. “I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”

At the approach of the country’s great industrial age, which would bring more goods to more Americans more cheaply than ever before, Thoreau sensed a complication — namely, complication itself, the challenge of too much stuff. . . .

Thoreau said it was a coincidence of the calendar that brought him to live at Walden on the nation’s birthday. But in beginning his experiment on the Fourth of July, Thoreau demonstrated that his country’s political independence had nurtured a hundred kinds of personal independence, too, including the latitude to be unconventional. His basic scheme — to live in a hut for a couple of years with no regular work and only the barest of essentials — isn’t a plan that many could or would follow, especially those of us with a spouse and children.

But Thoreau mentioned on the first page of “Walden” that he didn’t mean his method as a model for everyone else, urging readers to merely “accept such portions as apply to them.” Like any adventurer, he was testing the limits of possibility to more clearly understand what the limits were.

What Thoreau learned over the course of his life — and what his admirers often forget — is that progress and possessions aren’t necessarily bad things. He grumbled about the intrusions of the railroad, but knew that the train made it easier for him to borrow books from Harvard’s library in nearby Cambridge.

In a journal entry, he wondered how grand it would be to have a library’s bounty out in the woods, predicting the age of easily accessible reading we now have with the Internet. If Thoreau moved to Walden today, it’s possible — if not likely — that he would bring a laptop with him. His struggles to square civilization with serenity are still very much our own.

Thoreau sought a decluttered life because he thought it would lead to a decluttered mind. The abiding lesson of “Walden” is that only in occasionally standing offstage from our daily routines can we grasp what is really important to ourselves, our family, our country. Thoreau saw solitude and citizenship as mutually sustaining, not mutually exclusive.

Being alone might seem like an odd gesture on the Fourth of July, a national holiday meant to affirm our collective strength. But in a quiet hour away from fireworks, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we can still, like Thoreau, connect with the brightest gift of our republic — the freedom to follow a thought wherever it might lead us."

Summing Up
'Decluttering' is in --- again.
As free-to-choose individual citizens of the world's greatest nation, it's up to each of us to determine that which matters most in life.
Family and friends come first.
And as Americans we know that 'if we can dream it, we can do it.'
All things are possible -- even 'debt decluttering.'
Happy Independence Day!
Thanks. Bob.

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