Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a pastime


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For more than five years, I maintained myself this solely by the labor of my hands, and I found, that by working about six weeks a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.
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In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely...It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do.
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Some are "industrious," and appear to love labor for its own sake, or perhaps because it keeps them out of worse mischief; to such I have at present nothing to say.  Those who would not know what to do with more leisure than they now enjoy, I might advise to work twice as hard as they do - work till they pay for themselves, and get their free papers.  For myself I have found that the occupation of a day laborer was the most independent of any, especially as it required only thirty or forty days in a year to support one. The laborer's day ends with the going down of the sun, and he is then free to devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labor; but his employer, who speculates from month to month, has no respite from one end of the year to another.

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~ Henry David Thoreau
from Walden, 'Economy,' 1854
art by Roderick Maclver
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