Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pondering a Thoreau Quote

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change."

Sometimes, I live a day without life, without vigor. I can get depress and fail to focus on school work, my friends, and the rest of reality. I spend those days daydreaming of things I desire, like becoming a perky socialite who can always find something to say without embarrassing herself. I always get weak-kneed and flustered when talking to strange people or in front of class. I sometimes wish I was a stronger person with superpowers that can fix all my troubles. But I persevere through reality as is.

While I'm sure that there are plenty of people leading blessed and happy lives, there are always the rough spots. During those frustrating times, people might think negatively about themselves. Looking at it in Buddhist fashion, frustration and unhappiness is caused by want and lack of a certain precious element that would surely make our lives so much easier. Thoreau dismisses the need to have, "Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage." I'm guessing he's trying to say that we should take what we already have and nurture it, learn from it, and then make the best from the situation. After all, our hardships and flaws will add more flavor to the whole messy and random soup of our lives. Still, there are those that look for that instant gratification instead of working to create and waiting for that flavorful stock to finish. Using artificial and quick ways to attain that happiness may just hold a less tasty and unfulfilling experience than a fully rounded life.

We often seek to reinvent ourselves so that our peers may see us differently or to perfect our own deformities. I often wish that I looked different. Sometimes, I wish I weren't Asian so that I would blend in with the rest of sometimes-discriminating-mostly-Caucasian America. Maybe if I do, life would be different for me. Would I have more friends? Or could I snag dates more easily? This desire to change myself, intended for my happiness, causes me anguish. It makes me magnify my faults and deformities and anguish in the wee hours on school days as I pick through the scant and unfashionable hanging rags in my closet. 

"Do not trouble yourself much to get new things whether clothes or friends."

I guess I should be happy with myself as is. I keep forgetting that I'm taking for granted my blessings and focus more on trivial matters--the material instead of the intellectual and spiritual parts of life.

Is my situation just regular people angst? Maybe this is the case. I strongly believe in Thoreau's final three sentences, "tThings do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society." There is hope in the words "we change." I will change, and the people around me will change. Our views of culture, people, and political issues will change over time as new ingredients are added each day.  Someday, I know I'll start that step to adulhood and find a place where I'll fit. Just time is needed. 

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