So I've been reading Walden and it's not a book that I think is all that great. The book has a rather rough start with it's transcendentalism. The notion that any sort of modern consumption is somehow a destroyer of man's spirit and that one should live off the land - working with their hands and producing their own food, shelter, etc.
I'm certainly no transcendentalist, but it has made me think about life in general. I really do empathize with the rants that I regard as meaningless consumption for consumption sake - those people that are keeping up with the Jones' or 'hey look at my fancy new ride.'
I do think there is a value in what Henry David Thoreau is saying, just not the transcendentalism view of it. I think that mindlessly consuming stuff, as something to do, to show off, or generally not in your interest is not something good. I also think that doing things yourself is good. It helps breed self-esteem and confidence. Accomplishment is great, but that doesn't mean you have to do the most basic life needs yourself and guaranteeing yourself a life of abject poverty. I think the same spirit, confidence and self-esteem comes from achieving ones goals and that can be accomplished while paying for food and shelter.
When it comes to life, I think about all the people that get up every morning without a reason for it. Thoreau still had a purpose to his day and this purpose meant something. Other people, myself at one time, just got up out of habit. Bills need to be paid, so you get up, go to work, come home. A literal grind without a purpose. In life, you really didn't accomplish anything. At work, you get stuff done, but it isn't YOUR goal. I imagine this is the reason people have a midlife crisis precisely because it becomes apparent that they've lived half their life and haven't done jack with it.
It just made me think while reading this book that one needs to be purposeful with their actions. What gets you up in the morning is precisely that purpose. It shouldn't suck. It shouldn't be an awful feeling, or the worst - a numb feeling. Pursuing the life you want is what makes it great.
Another thing that popped into my head was something Jordan Peterson discussed. He was talking about how people should use a calendar and plan out their days. He told people to schedule their ideal day to accomplish their goals. A day when you saw it planned out, you thought it would be a good day. Many people view that schedule as something more reflective of a prison - when they go to act it out. If this is how you view your schedule after you've planned out your day to achieve your goals, you need to rethink your goals. That's not to say that every task or every day is a Valentine to yourself. Sometimes a crap job is required today, so your goal tomorrow can be achieved. But as long as you're aiming and driving towards your goals, you have that purpose, that spirit and that grit & grind.
This is just a thought I had while reading Walden.