Thoughts in Solitude

Thoughts in Solitude Book Cover Thoughts in Solitude
Thomas Merton
Farrar Straus & Giroux
October 1, 1998

This is a short book but it is full of impactful thoughts. I like to read these books slowly - one page, one small chapter at a time and spend the day reflecting on it before moving on. There were many instances where Merton's reflections really got in my head and stuck there.

Teach me to bear a humility which shows me, without ceasing, that I am a liar and a fraud and that, even though this is so, I have an obligation to strive after truth, to be as true as I can, even though I will inevitably find all my truth half poisoned with deceit.

Chew on that for a little while.


Walden and Civil Disobedience Book Cover Walden and Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau, W. S. Merwin,
Signet Classic

I first read Walden in the late 1980's in college. I had no idea what I was doing. This is a fact that becomes more and more clear as I age. Thoreau wrote this to be like a "bible". It is not meant to be read over a week or so for a college class. It is meant to be absorbed. Slowly. And that is exactly how I approached it this time around. I am glad I did.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.