Bar Talk

A blog about anything under the sun…

On Henry David Thoreau

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November 27, 2007 3:18 A.M.

All I am able to say is that I am absolutely astonished at the reading’s I have just skimmed through. I certainly know that I have a lot more reading to do about this man, but from the few lines I have read so far, I am in love. I read Thoreau only once before in the past, when I was a very, very young boy, probably around the age of thirteen, perhaps younger. By a thread, I was able to understand his writings. I mostly connected with them through the fact that I had seen him and the word anarchy in the same sentence. At the time, being most rebellious towards my family, I enjoyed thinking that there was another person like me, one who had rebelled. But when I read through the essay “Civil Disobedience” as a young boy, I wasn’t able to understand it at all. I sat there in disbelief. This man had not been talking about his nasty parents forcing him to do things. I do not even remember what I truly thought after the finished readings. But now, years later, I am able to understand why this man is so popular. However, for a person like me, not being enrolled in college at the moment and all, it is funny that a man like Thoreau is studied in modern day American classrooms. Modern-day American classrooms are pumping out conformists at what I believe is a higher rate than they have ever been pumped out before. I do not live in an age where knowledge is cherished, although it may seem as though it is. It is a fugazi, all fake and pretend. You see, from what I was able to gather during my twelve, boring years enrolled in school, both private and public at that, the good student is nothing but a do-gooder. That is to say he or she does not actually care about what it is that they are learning, they simply care about impressing those who are above them, so that they can get their foot in the door.

You see, much like Thoreau, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘the system’. I always loved to consider myself an intellectual, but never was able to truly think it because I was often regarded as the ‘slow one’ in the family. Growing up, I had a large problem. That problem was school. My main problem in school was that I always became fascinated by a particular topic that we skimmed through during class and then the class, or teacher in this case, forgot about it entirely until a test came along, where perhaps one question would be asked about it. The problem was I would find out about whatever it was I found interesting, and, immediately upon arriving home, I would rush to my computer to research more and more about it. If we had a test, I would often forget to study the actual material assigned, but instead go off on a tangent that was all my own. Unfortunately for me, this always meant low grades. And when you get low grades, your superiors begin to think you’re stupid. Especially when you spend countless hours reading, and still, after all that reading, still manage to fail. The worst part for me was, whereas the topics I indulged in I remained passionate about, my high-achieving peers could care less about them. They just wanted that good grade to show off to Mommy or Daddy. I couldn’t have despised them more. I thought of them as fools.

Now, post high-school graduation, I am beginning to doubt my previous ways more and more. Ironically enough, it is during this time that I am truly able to connect with Thoreau’s writings, yet, at the same time, feel a great disconnect, as if I am truly a fool for listening to his words, as they mean nothing to most people these days, except, I am guessing, a good grade. Most of my peers, and I would say most likely the high-achieving ones, would look at this piece of writing and ask me what class it was for. But I am not currently enrolled in any classes and have no interest in seeing this piece of writing graded or even judged. My only intention by writing this is to give myself a glimmer of hope that one day, much like I am reading through Thoreau’s works now, someone will be able to connect with these very writings. And, considering I think the economy is, for lack of a better word, fucked, I have absolutely no intention on profiting at all from these writings. But, back to what I was saying. Here I am, at eighteen years old, now engaged in the activities of grown men on a regular basis for the first time, and I find myself thinking that perhaps my idealistic ways and tendencies were indeed foolish as everyone had told me throughout the years. After all, when all was said and done, my low-grades weren’t able to move me anywhere. I now work for my family delivering oil in the slums, barely catching anyone’s attention, while my high-achieving peers who cared nothing about the actual topics they were taught enjoy lifestyles filled with partying and praise. They are cherished, I am thought of as a fool. I often think that I must be doing something wrong, as with each passing day it seems they are getting more and more things done correctly, whereas I seem to keep failing.

However, being the person that I am with the history I have, I refuse to think of myself as a fool for more than five minutes. It is this attitude that keeps me from completely conforming to this society and it is also this attitude which I believe holds me back from ever gaining my families complete respect. Also, although I do despise rules, I do enjoy advice. And I believe this particular piece of advice from Thoreau outlines much of my anguish about my current situation.

DON’T CHEAT YOURSELF BY WORKING FOR A PAYCHECK. IF WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE FREE-OF-CHARGE IS SO WORTHLESS TO YOU THAT YOU’D BE WILLING TO EXCHANGE IT FOR MONEY OR FAME, THEN YOU NEED TO FIND BETTER HOBBIES.

3:50 A.M.

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Written by grasso89

November 27, 2007 at 9:04 am