Friday, June 11, 2010

Henry and Edith

Society seems to be stuck in the fast lane. Busy, these days, seems to be the norm.
Sometimes I feel as if I must convey an "illusion of busyness" just because one feels inferior if one is not busy. 

Heaven forbid you have a quiet moment with nothing to do but set beside a pond and think and read a book.

If Thoreau could see us today.
That is what I keep telling myself.

But I know better. Things were probably pretty hectic in Thoreau's time too. Because if there is one thing I have learned from books and literature, it is that mankind, over time, has changed very little.

Henry David Thoreau escaped to Walden's pond and wrote "Our life is frittered away by detail. ... Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand;"

In a trance of endless social engagements and mindless activities, Edith Wharton wrote Twilight Sleep, a book about a family determined to escape the pain, boredom and emptiness of life by living in a very "busy" world.

Now that I think about it, these two writers had a lot in common.

Thoreau died in 1862. 

Edith was born in 1862.

One began where the other left off.

And each wrote about and were keenly aware of the fact that mankind, throughout time, has struggled with this burden of busyness.

Has mankind always been this busy?
Or are we just busy being mankind?

Walden Pond

I know Thoreau well.

Not through his books.

Oh, I tried reading "Walden" once and all I could think of was Show me the damn pond so I can throw myself in and spare myself the agony of this book(!).

I know Thoreau because I live with him.

My husband is Thoreau. He could spend two years setting beside a pond communing with the crappie. Come to think of it, when we were dating, I lived beside a pond and while my husband was pretending to visit me, I now know that he was more interested in fishing at our pond.

Hmm... Should have been a sign.

Now I just realized that hubby and Thoreau share the same birthday.

Which is quite a revelation because Edith Wharton and I share the same birthday.
Thoreau and Wharton were the two authors who's works came to mind when I thought about mankind and how hectic our lives have become.

Each wrote, with different style, on this very subject.

And each were keenly aware of the fact that life has become too busy, too fast-paced, and too complicated in these modern times.

Henry and Edith were definitely ahead of their time.

Hubby and I not only share birthdays with these two authors, but we also share a love of place.
Thoreau loved Walden's pond and preferred a simple life in the woods.

Wharton, on the other hand, appreciated the finer things in life and lived in a mansion and wrote The Decoration Of Houses.

So I guess it should come as no surprise when I tell you that hubby prefers the country life, while I prefer the city with it's beautiful architecture and cultural activities.

Wharton split her time between The Mount and Europe.

Thoreau spent two years living on an isolated pond in the woods. zzzz ... zzzz...

The Mount

Hubby and I are the modern day equivalent of Henry and Edith: two complete opposites coming together through time and place with absolutely nothing in common but a love of place and an appreciation of books.  

Next month we will be married twenty-nine years.

It's a union of mutual respect.
I respect the fact that he likes to go fishing and wander about in the woods. He respects the fact that I am a town mouse and prefer cafes and libraries and big old houses on tree-lined streets.

So I guess the moral of the story is to not worry about how busy we are in this modern world, but when choosing a partner, do not rely on zodiac sign alone. Look up whose author born was on their birthday and there you will find the true personality of your mate.

Edith Wharton

Henry David Thoreau

I think there's a resemblance! 


Linda said...

This was excellent reading (and therefore, writing) :) I enjoyed it very much and the new look to your blog is lovely!

Congratulations to you and your husband on your upcoming Anniversary. This Barrett & Browning pair have a ways to go... we're looking at 8 years this August.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Sit by a pond in town somewhere with a pen and paper in hand and start writing your novel, when you become famous, you could live in the city and go to your log cabin on the weekends! You are a gifted writer Michelle! Love the way your blog looks, and the Amazon feature.
Happy Anniversary to you and Thoreau.