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  1. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan October 3, 2014 6:35 am

    Life is rather full and forever changing at speed. I have already missed so much and to live deliberately I imagine would mean cramming still more of the things I miss into my world. From stopping to smell the roses, (watch more sunrises, catch more fish, and play fetch with the old dog a few more times before its too late); to actually interact and build more meaningful relationships with those already in my life (plus those I just never seem to have the time to say anything more than a passing ‘hello’ — add to that getting to know a random stranger ever now and again). I guess the short answer for me to ‘living deliberately’ would be: to LOVE more deliberately.

  2. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard October 3, 2014 7:10 am

    Thoreau’s definition of “live deliberately” meant to spend a huge portion of his time writing 2 books – first, A Week Along the Concord & Merrimack Rivers and then rough cuts of what later published as Walden.

  3. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal October 3, 2014 7:54 am

    It would mean living and being aware- noticing the details and also seeing “the big picture”. Not just stumbling along in a stupor.

  4. Joel
    Joel October 3, 2014 8:04 am

    I’ve read that quote a dozen times, and never have really understood what he meant by ‘living deliberately.’ The message of Walden always seemed muddled to me. On the one hand he seemed to want to stop and smell the roses for a while, which is fine, on the other hand he came across as a know-it-all fussbudget who could never stop coming up with prescriptions for how other people should live. I admire Thoreau’s views on slavery and civil disobedience, but otherwise he has always annoyed me a bit.

    What would living deliberately mean to me? I will take the liberty of saying rather what does it mean because it’s the way I’ve tried to live for some time now, but it’s still difficult to define briefly. To live in a manner consistent with my own philosophy, harming no one, not isolating myself to an obsessive degree but imposing myself as little as possible, rejecting the demands of coercive authority and avoiding them to the extent possible without too blatantly risking prison or death – while at the same time accepting that everybody dies, so not worrying about it overmuch. Learning at last (quite deliberately) what I need for my own happiness and then doing that. Accepting that any demands from others that inflict costs on that happiness are unreasonable, and giving myself full permission to reject them without causing myself pain – while understanding that others are quite free to do the same. In short, learning to live with balance.

  5. Pat
    Pat October 3, 2014 8:51 am

    Living life the freest I can maintain… striving for good health in both body and mind… always asking “Why?”… never taking anyone or anything for granted… and never forgetting that “Reality is not optional.”— (Thomas Sowell).

  6. LarryA
    LarryA October 3, 2014 9:18 am

    I’ll go along with Joel: Waldon, to me, said, “Live like Thoreau and you’ll be fulfilled.”


    I’m fairly active in a small-town community, but it’s things I love to do. (Sometimes obsessively so, but they’re good ruts.) I’ve been singing for 50 years, and get twitchy when the choir goes on “vacation.” I started writing in high school (1964) and can’t stop. I’ve been a firearms instructor for 30 years, and teaching is still more fun than shooting. Most important, my bride and I have been married 45 years and counting.

    There are lots of people who are willing to guide me into a more enlightened life, but I’ve learned to say, “No.”

  7. Monica Kelp
    Monica Kelp October 3, 2014 12:48 pm

    If I tried to “live deliberately,” I’d take a few days to wrap everything up and then blow my brains out. I’m tired of watching it go downhill and convinced the trend cannot be reversed.

  8. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 3, 2014 1:10 pm

    I’m with Joel. I choose different things than he does, but for pretty much the same reasons.

    And Monica, I am so sorry you see things that way. I think I understand, because that’s close to where I was ten years ago. I sat down and counted the cost, both ways, and I’m happy to say I chose life instead of death – deliberately.

    No, the trend cannot be reversed. The evil in this world has to work its way through to whatever will replace it. It can be endured and survived, however. You don’t have to be a part of “it.” Don’t watch “it.” Choose your own way. 🙂

  9. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard October 4, 2014 6:17 am

    I have always been wary of people who are pious about growing beans.

  10. Claire
    Claire October 4, 2014 7:06 am

    LOL, I admit I agree with Joel and Jim on old Henry David’s sanctimony. I admire his essay on civil disobedience so much, but often when I try to read other stuff, I stumble over his almost Obama-like self-satisfaction and his contempt for anybody who unlike him.

    Just this week I tried to read “Life Without Principle” ( and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs about how superior he is to people who pursue (gasp!) business and labor!

  11. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard October 4, 2014 8:45 am

    Thoreau had some wonderful thoughts & maxims in the 1840s. But by the late 1850s, he was fanatically enthusiastic in favor of a bloody crusade to end slavery in the South. The deification of John Brown by Thoreau & Emerson contributed to bringing on the Civil War – a catastrophe whose effects swept away whatever benefit the early work of Thoreau & Emerson had. Historian Thomas Fleming, in his book A Disease of the Public Mind, chronicles the profound impact that Thoreau & Emerson had on this issue.

    Thoreau was 100% right to be totally opposed to slavery. But other abolitionists like Lysander Spooner recognized that ending slavery via a Civil War would bring a vast host of new evils.

  12. Beth
    Beth October 4, 2014 10:44 am

    I agree with most of what you all have said, particularly Joel.

    Personally, as well, I think I’ve always understood “to live deliberately” in the sense of: to live **mindfully** (i.e., in deliberation). To ensure my freedom to ponder, wonder, contemplate, and choose — based upon the insights gained from the contemplative process.

    Interesting…”deliberation” as opposed to “liberation”…something to ponder!

  13. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard October 4, 2014 12:20 pm

    Hard to see Thoreau as a model for “living deliberately” when he avoided both beer and women.

  14. Roberta X
    Roberta X October 4, 2014 6:02 pm

    Hey, I avoid beer and women. ….Thoreau owed rather a lot to his family’s grubby pencil-making biz. He even worked in it himself. But you can search his works and not find word one about it. Snotty limousine liberal.

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