Why I Went to the Woods: the Concept of Time and Meaning of Life

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Time is more than money as money spent can be earned again. However, time, once spent, can never be earned. One must slow down and live our life and remove what distracts us from life such as negatively, weight, fear, stress, and apprehension. Loss of time is considered as the worst thing on this earth because wasting time wastes us and our future. In Thoreau’s essay “Why I Went to the Woods,” he wanted us to remember the importance and value of living a simple life. He thinks humans are so caught up in their possessions, that we don’t take time to enjoy life and take time out during our day to capture life and to focus on the positive outlooks of life. Thoreau also uses different metaphors to help show how life can pass you by.

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Time is among the very few things that once lost can never be discovered. Take a moment and think about what you did today or what made you happy. Most of you would say, they rushed through our typical daily tasks, trying to get those accomplished one by one, as much as we could, in a given time. The average life of a person is just a reservoir of 2.4 billion seconds or 75 years in first world nations, where life is quite high. Each person is given 24 hours a day to either utilize it or waste it away, but it gives us equal duration to follow our dreams or waste them. They are only gifted with the power of memory to capture all the great moments that made our lives worthwhile. In those 24 hours did you shower, shave, go to work, catch up on incomplete work, or even call to check on a family member? Did you stay in bed, hang with friends, breathe, or think about how you can better your future? Every day is 24 hours and if we don’t use our time wisely it will pass you up. The best way to conduct a time audit is to record your time, activity by activity, as you progress throughout the day. Thoreau makes a statement “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.” (paragraph 8) This statement tells us how time is short yet irrelevant. To live simply, we should not give time so much importance over our lives, but we should know that it is always there and that it is short, just as he treats time as a normal stream but knows how shallow it is. Then Thoreau says, “Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains” (paragraph 8) If we view ourselves as a portion of water in the stream, our journey becomes the stream in its entirety. Every moment as we travel down the stream is different from the last as we continue to move forward and grow.

Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day to day functioning. Sometimes stress can cause us to stay in the house and we don’t realize time is passing us by. One stay in the house so we won’t get impatient with others or cause unnecessary conflicts. Humans have a lot of responsibilities such as paying bills, kids, working, or dealing with their relationship and all of this can cause stress. Thoreau wants you to live an existence with only the simple bare necessities. Thoreau states, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million, count half a dozen and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.” (paragraph 2) In this metaphor, he means to only worry about the things that matter the most. A thumbnail is very small, and much cannot fit in its surface. Thoreau is saying not to worry about so many things fitting in your “thumbnail” if they don’t serve a purpose. They must remember to take time out their business schedule and do something fun and meaningful.

If you read further along you will see that he still encourages readers to follow their own path and live a life of simplicity. Everyone is so caught up in their possessions, that they do not take the time to fully let the place where they will live captivate them. One are all disposable, so you should go home and spend time with your family. You can use your vacation time, take a mental health day, or go to the gym. Make time for your hobbies, interests, passions, and personal development. Make time to live your life because we can’t get our time back. Thoreau states “Let is spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails.” (paragraph 7) What he means by this metaphor is we take everything so seriously, and we allow that to throw us off track and district us from what our real priorities are. He wanted us to live like nature or to live with a purpose and a specific plan or design, such as nature does.

In conclusion, Thoreau’s essay “Why I Went to the Woods” gave one many metaphors on why one should experience life, not waste time, do something that is truly meaningful and to enjoy simple pleasures. One can use these different metaphors to advance with confidence in the direction of your dreams, to live the life of stress free and not let time slip anyway from you anymore.

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