Henry David Thoreau

Este fin de semana hubo un Book & Bake Sale en el pueblito donde vivo. Karen, la señora que me alquila el departamento donde me estoy quedando en Applegate, trabajó muchos años en la biblioteca local y por ello participa de estos eventos como organizadora. Después de almuerzo me di una vuelta para buscar un libro, y por qué no, un postrecito.

La venta se dio en el mismo lugar donde son mis clases de diseño de jardines. Cuando entré, vi cientos de libros acomodados en mesas largas y me sorprendieron los precios. La mayoría costaba $0.50 centavos y el más caro, $2 dólares. Así que me sumergí en ellos y salí con aproximadamente 12 libros (algunos para mí, otros para regalar). Obviamente también me fui con el brownie más rico que he comido en mi vida. No bromeo.

Cuando llegué a casa los revisé todos pero me quedé leyendo uno en particular: “On Man & Nature” de Thoreau. Este libro está editado por Peter Pauper Press (1960) y recopila frases de todas las obras de este autor. La editorial ha dividido estas citas en 11 capítulos donde Thoreau vincula al humano con la naturaleza, utilizando diversas metáforas y rechazando ciertos comportamientos que llevan al hombre a actuar como máquinas. Ya en el s.XIX, el autor cuestiona la dominancia sobre la naturaleza, el consumo, la necesidad de vivir entre el pasado y el futuro, los ciclos naturales, el estilo de vida acelerado y la sostenibilidad.

No pretendo traducir esta literatura por lo que las frases seleccionadas a continuación se encuentran en inglés (antiguo y a veces difícil de descifrar). No tengo nada más que decir.

“I have an appointment with spring. She comes to the window to wake me, and I go forth an hour or two earlier than usual.”

“Do a little more of that work which you had sometime confessed to be good, which you feel that society and your justest judge rightly demands of you. Do what you reprove yourself for not doing. Know that you are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with yourself without reason. Let me say to you and to myself in one breath, cultivate the tree which you have found to bear fruit in your soil.”

“I have aspired to practice in succession all the honest arts of life, that I may gather all their fruits. But then, if you are intemperate, if you toil to raise an unnecessary amount of corn, even the large crop of wheat becomes as a small crop of chaff.”

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.”

“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed of we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it.”

“If I would preserve my relation to nature, I must make my life more moral, more pure and innocent. The problem is so precise and simple as a mathematical one. I must not live loosely, but more and more continently.

“Cultivate poverty like sage, like a garden herb. Do not trouble yourself to get new things, whether clothes or friends. That is dissipation. Turn the old, return to them. Things do not change; we change. If I were confined to a corner in a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts”.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

“No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.”

“The coward was born one day too late, for he has never overtaken the present hour. He does not dwell on the earth as though he had a deed of the land in his pocket- not as another lump of nature, as imperturbable an occupant as the stones in the field. He has only rented a few acres of time and space, and thinks that every accident portends the expiration of his lease. He is a non-proprietor, a serf, in his moral economy nomadic, having no fixed abode.”

“Take time by the forelock. Now or never. You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this.”

“You must converse much with the field and woods, if you would imbibe such health into your mind and spirit as you covet for your body.”

“Is not disease the rule of existence? There is no lily pad floating on the river but has been riddled by insects. Almost every shrub and tree has its gall, oftentimes esteemed its chief ornament and hardly to be distinguished from the fruit. If misery loves company, misery has company enough.”

“We have lived not in proportion to the number of years that we have spent on the earth, but in proportion as we have enjoyed.”

“Nature never makes haste; her systems revolve at an even pace. The buds swell imperceptibly, without hurry or confusion, as though the short spring days were an eternity. Why, then, should man hasten as if anything less than eternity were allotted for the least deed? The wise man is restful, never restless or impatient. He each moment abides where he is, as some walkers actually rest the whole body at each step, while others never relax the muscles of the legs till the accumulated fatigue obliges them to stop short.”

“Why should we live with such hurry and waste in life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow.”

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air; drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each. Let them be your only diet, drink and botanical medicines. Be blown on by all winds. Open all your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons.”

“Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”

“You must love the crust of the earth on which you dwell more than the sweet crust of any bread or cake. You must be able to extract nutriment out of a sand-heap. You must have so good an appetite as this, else you will live in vain.”

“O thee, O earth, are my bone and sinew made: to thee, O sun, am I brother. Here have I my habitat. I am of thee.”

“Every part of nature teaches that the passing away of one life is the making of room for another. The oak dies down to the ground, leaving within its rind a virgin mould, which will impart a vigorous life to an infant forest.”

“We may live the life of a plant or animal without living an animal life.”

“My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated with the fumes, call it, of the divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant.”

Para terminar:

“I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are?”


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