A man sitting in between two pictures, the first of people rushing to work, and the second of a tranquil forest.

The Rat Race

It’s Monday morning and we’re back to work. But what’s the point? Sure, we’re putting food on our tables and we’re keeping the bills paid, but there has to be a greater reason for all this running around.

Maybe you love your work, or maybe you’re in a job because it’s your only option for survival. Regardless, you’re there on a Monday morning getting it done.

And if you’re retired, you still need to survive on a pension, social security, or other means. I’ve watched my grandparents pinch pennies in their final years, and that takes a lot of work.

What if we all ran an experiment today? What if we all decided to do more than “Make a Living?” What if we decided that today, we would take one small step towards living deliberately?

Thoreau’s attempt to “get back to nature” was an attempt to get away from the capitalist rat race that defined his culture. There is a difference between “just making a living” and getting a life or truly living. This is the abiding message of Walden. The frenetic busyness of modern life should never be confused with the essential business of living (Kaag and VanBelle 6).

Only you can determine what your version of “The essential business of living” looks like. It may take months or even years for you to get there, but that’s not the point. The point is to get started.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.



Work Cited

Kaag, John, and Jonathan Van Belle. Henry At Work: Thoreau On Making A Living. Princeton University Press, 2023.

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