Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Simply Thoreau

I read the newspaper every morning. The Oregonian. Not the best publication in the country but it's all that's available in my mountain hamlet.

The other day this article got me going:

Thoreau, economy inspires students to learn lessons of less -- chicagotribune.com

These kids in a Chicago high school are doing a "Simplicity Experiment", giving things up to live "simply", you know, like Henry David Thoreau did.

That Thoreau, he didn't have a cell phone. So the kids are giving up their cell phones for a month to find out what that feels like. Another month they will give up the....oh my.... the Internet! They're also giving up things like sugar, television, fast food and fresh clean sheets of paper. Not all at once, mind you. Whew! I know you were worried about that. No, they're giving up just one thing at a time.

Now really. I commend these kids for giving this a try. They live in a privileged world and it's a good thing to see what it's like to live without for at least a month. But just one thing at a time.

But, I don't see how this "Simplicity Experiment" is modeled after Thoreau. ???? Do you?

Some of the things they are giving up are things that I lived without in high school and I never thought I was living a life even remotely related to the Transcendental philosophy.

I had a phone. I had to stand in the kitchen to talk on it. For privacy I could stretch the cord into the bathroom and shut the door. But I certainly couldn't take it to school with me.

No computer and the Internet was still just a gleam in Al Gore's eye. But I did have a pretty good typewriter available because my dad was an IBM repairman.

I did have fast food. I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken and took leftovers home.

Our television had about four channels, though I'm pretty sure we didn't have an electronic remote for volume and channel control. But I did have a little brother.

Even so, Thoreau never had any of these things either and when he went to Walden he supposedly gave up all the modern conveniences of the 1840's. Uh....I'm not sure what those were exactly, but I'm pretty sure he didn't have to give up Twitter.

So, way to go guys. I'm glad you are taking the opportunity for self-sacrifice. I love how one of the students said, "There's a pride to it too. There's a pride to saying 'no' to things."

We've all got to learn how to say "no" sometime.


  1. It's like that one video- how fast does the world owe you something you didn't have just a short time before?
    "...we got on the runway, and we waiter for 40 minutes!" "Oh yeah, what did you do after that- experience the miracle of human flight? Did you fly through the air?"

    I get all pissed when I go places that don't have internet here. I'm in Peru. Come on, Kris. I was at a buddies house yesterday, and he was saying that he and his flatmate pay for internet. He commented: "You know how important it is to have internet in the house."

  2. Favorite Son - SethMarch 19, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    Watch this youtube video, this guy explains it quite well.



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