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.

Because if there is one thing I have learned from reading 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.

These two writers had a lot in common.

Thoreau died in 1862.

Edith was born in 1862.

One began where the other left off.

Both keenly aware of the fact that mankind, throughout time, has always been 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. Come to think of it, when we were dating, I lived beside a pond and while my husband was pretending to visit me, I know in reality that he was more interested in fishing at the pond.

Hmm... Should have been a sign.

Now I just realized that hubby and Thoreau share the same birthday.
Wow, such a revelation because Edith Wharton and I share the same birthday.

Come to think of it, as I began this post, 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, although in vastly 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 the same birthdays with these two authors, 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 wants to live in the country, while I prefer city life with 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 place and time 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, when choosing a partner, don't rely entirely on their zodiac sign. Look up which author born was on their birthday. There you'll find the true personality of your mate.


Edith Wharton





Henry David Thoreau


I think there's a resemblance! 




2 comments:

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.