Thoreau: Invisible workings

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Friend Henry, you wrote in Walden that after a while sometimes at two in the afternoon things got a little slow – that you were on the edge of being bored. That seems to be where I am now, in my freedom that is only a few months old, and perhaps temporary at that. Can you offer suggestions beyond “Get to work!”?

How many times recently in walking in the woods have you had my words running through your consciousness, if a man walks in the woods half the day for love of them he is in danger of being thought an idler—

It is true, what your friends are telling you, sometimes you need to stop. You don’t think you are doing much and so you wonder how much less you should be doing, but consider that much of your work goes on invisibly to you. It is not as though you ceased to think, to ponder, to daydream, to imagine – to put these activities in ascending order of abstraction – and so you needn’t chain yourself to your plow. The ox won’t thank you for it and you won’t be a better plowman for sleeping at the plow waiting for the ox to wake up!

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,” as Waldo said.

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