By Simon Lawrence
My phone rang as I wandered through a fashionable part of London, towards a crowd milling around a trendy café bar… I found a table and ordered a coffee and a sandwich.
‘So how’s your love life?’ said a familiar voice.
‘Hi Liz need you ask! You know its rubbish and you’re completely responsible,’ I protested. ‘If you would stop sending me all over the place maybe I could find time to settle down with a nice girl. Anyway, what do you want!’ I said rudely then laughed.
Liz was my agent at the time, someone who lived life fast, far too fast, always in a hurry to get somewhere, yet that somewhere she had still to find.
She was like so many people I meet who seem incapable of simplifying their thinking, never stopping long enough to work out a plan worth having. She really did not know what she wanted with her life, not really deep down inside of her… so she filled it with detail and busyness.
The great philosopher Thoreau said in a quote: “Our life is frittered away by detail, the nation is ruined by want of calculation of a worthy aim… it lives too fast.”
Henry Thoreau wanted to write a book, so for two years lived like a hermit in the woods. To feed himself he grew beans and corn. His idea was to escape the fritter and the agitation of his normal life so he could think about his book and then write it. He did and then he went home again.
I don’t think we need to go to the extreme that Thoreau felt necessary, especially if like me you really hate gardening… but it would help us all if we applied even in part some of his general principles.
We all live in the midst of details that have us running in circles; stopping us achieving that goal we call our dream, we become tired, it brings on stress that can lead to a heart attack or a nervous breakdown.
So maybe the answer is not to take to the woods, but to cut the detail from your mind and your day that fritter away what is most valuable in your life.
I think perhaps what Henry Thoreau really meant was, 'to slow right down, to live your life with depth rather than going at it too fast, and to achieve that, we all need to eradicate everything that's not important in our lives.!'