When I (allegedly) read Henry David Thoreau's Walden during my years as a Lute, it didn't phase me much.
Today, a single quote ran me over.
"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." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854)
I had just completed a free-writing exercise about "what motivates me." I had started with the typical things. My family, my friends, creating a positive environment, passionate people, etc. Which is, in part, true. But I quickly realized it isn't the essence of my motivation. It's the superficial, brain-friendly side of things. But what is it that makes me passionate about even those things?
I wrapped up the 5-minute writing session realizing that, honestly, it's fear that motivates me.
I'm afraid of not living, of being a mere observer rather than grabbing the reins and taking charge of the years I have. I'm afraid of looking back 50 years from now and having pushed my "what if" list, my "to do" list, my "if only" list so far into the "I'll do it later" realm that I miss out on being an active participant in not just my community and family life, but in MY life.
And then I looked up to Thoreau's quote on the project screen in front of me.
You see, I'm not one to take things literally.
I'd been peeking through the trees of my woods for years, but never had the courage to just walk in. To see what was there. Last year, that changed. A lot changed in my life. Family roles, jobs, the things on my to-do list. And while the path through the woods is still a bit spooky, I feel like now that I had the courage to wander down the path I hadn't yet followed, it's the right path.
To quote another great writer: "I found passion for life in Tacoma." (Thanks, Neko.)
This Thoreau, the unknown, the fear to wake up later with regrets, it explains a lot about my passion for the town where I finally learned to unleash my inner sphinx.
And thus I continue to preach: Live local; die happy.
Not sure where to get started?
Check out a few of these spunky, soul-feeding, fundamentally Tacoma things that you can be a part of, as an observer ... or a participant.
- Community Gardens in Tacoma: A Growing Conversation (it's just beginning ...)
- First Night Tacoma-Pierce County (mark your calendar for Dec. 31 ... this fun fest is coming back)
- Buy Local. (When you support local businesses, you support your community. My favorite shop local location: King's Books in the St. Helens/Stadium District, just north of downtown. That's where I'll be ordering a copy of Thoreau's Walden as soon as I'm done blogging.)
My main request: Do something that scares you.