To Be Truly Awake

I liked when Thoreau says on page 85, “The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.” He is saying that most people get into a routine of doing the same, probably boring, tasks everyday. People complain about their jobs, or about not being able to find a job, or about their families, or about anything really. There are few people in this world who make the most out of what they have and live life to the fullest. One is not “awake” until he does something that changes the world and makes it better. I think that Thoreau is trying to encourage people to try living a different, more exciting and fulfilling lifestyle. When Thoreau wrote this essay, everything was different that it is today. People had the time and ability to do something with their lives, because life was much simpler. Today, people have the resources to do amazing things, but not necessarily the time because they have responsibilities. Many people have families to take care of and jobs to go to many hours of the day, and lose sense of what all of their options are.

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7 Responses to To Be Truly Awake

  1. Nathaniel Cowper says:

    I agree with what you are saying. Walden, though it may contain a lot of universally valid and timeless information, has a different resonance now than it must have had when it was written. As E.O. Wilson stated in his letter to Thoreau, there were only a billion people on Earth during his day, when now there are 7 billion. The population has grown, the amount of undeveloped land has shrunk, and modern life is much more complex and faster paced than it was for Thoreau. It’s a little absurd now to imagine say, a Skidmore student, giving up their school and their social life to live in a cabin by a lake in solitude. People today would think they had lost their marbles. We have different lives than the people back then did, and as a result, fewer options even though the possibilities of the past centuries may still be enticing to us.

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