Friday, February 24, 2012

The Cost of Busyness

Even before moving to Nantucket to write my “Waldenesque guidebook to simpler living,” as I am describing it, I recalled that Henry David Thoreau had spoken at the local library here called the Atheneum. As it turns out, it was on December 28, 1854, the same year that Walden was published, and my research indicates that Thoreau typically charged enough for such lectures to cover his annual expenditures in one speech.

According to the January 1, 1855 edition of the Nantucket Inquirer, “A large audience assembled to listen to the man who has rendered himself notorious by living, as his book asserts, in the woods, at an expense of about sixty dollars per year, in order that he might there hold free communion with Nature, and test for himself the happiness of a life without manual labor or conventional restraints.”

Thoreau is reported to have opened his lecture by saying, “I will only lecture on what I think, not for the sake of saying pleasant things. I wish to give you a strong dose of myself. You have sent for me, and will pay me, and you shall have me, even if I bore you beyond all precedent.” Afterward, the Nantucket Inquirer noted, “His lecture may have been desultory and marked by simplicity of manner, but not by paucity of ideas.”

Thoreau expounded his thoughts by adding, “I shall take for my text these words, ‘What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’ This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I cannot buy a blank book to write thoughts in but it is ruled for dollars and cents.” Of course, it was none other than Jesus Christ himself who originally posed the question, as recorded in Mark 8:36, and we would do well to count the cost of all our “busyness.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ode to Love

With today being Valentines Day I thought I’d write an ode to my beautiful, young wife of nearly 24 years, Linda. As I have contemplated many times lately, a minimalist journey such as the one I am traveling requires a truly special companion, and that describes my wife in spades, or hearts, as the case is.

While Linda and I have always strived to live a simple life together, the latest iteration of what that looks like for us could easily frighten others more faint of heart. Suffice to say that I would not have dared to try selling our house in a down market without my wife’s consent, yet she was not only on board but also in total agreement with the details of the move, resulting in a timely and profitable sale.

It was nine months ago today that we moved from the house we had built and called home for twelve years in order to enjoy our present lifestyle of liquidity and mobility. And I am pleased and proud to say that Linda has been as supportive and participative in making our moves successful as one could possibly hope.

During our time of sabbatical here on Nantucket, Linda is volunteering at the local shelter for abused women and continuing her daily practice of making a difference in the lives of people she comes in contact with. On the home front, she lovingly strives to keep our lives here in close quarters growing together rather than apart and we are experiencing just that.

As I try to remind her regularly, Linda is even more beautiful to me than the day we married and I truly love her more with each passing day. Yet the highest compliment I can bestow upon her is to quote the wise proverbial saying: “There are many good women, but you are the best!”