I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.That's the rest of the paragraph in Thoreau's "Walden" that begins "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
I'd looked it up when I was writing this morning's post "'Baseball as a Road to God' — the name of a course at NYU" and saying that "my father never went for a walk in the woods." I was big on "Walden" back in those days. Well, you know that. You know the story of me and religion and my high school graduation. It was back in that "Meade's Mud" post.
Remember: "Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place...."
And everything seems connected, now, doesn't it? There's Paris, and we were just talking about France and the French, and whether they're the ones who are not living what is not life.
To put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms...
Rout. Cut. Shave. Drive. Reduce.