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discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert.
What is a course of history or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how
well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of
life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be
seen? Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer? Read your
fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.

I did not read books the first summer; I hoed beans. Nay, I often did
better than this. There were times when I could not afford to
sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of
the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a
summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my
sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the
pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and
stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the
house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of
some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of
the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the

night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would
have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much
over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals
mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most
part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to
light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening,
and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the
birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow
had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my
chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest.
My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any
heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the
ticking of a clock; for I lived like the Puri Indians, of whom it is said
that "for yesterday, today, and tomorrow they have only one word,
and they express the variety of meaning by pointing backward for
yesterday forward for tomorrow, and overhead for the passing day."
This was sheer idleness to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the
birds and flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have
been found wanting. A man must find his occasions in himself, it is
true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his

I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who
were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the
theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement and never
ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without an
end. If we were always, indeed, getting our living, and regulating our
lives according to the last and best mode we had learned, we should
never be troubled with ennui. Follow your genius closely enough,
and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.
Housework was a pleasant pastime. When my floor was dirty, I rose
early, and, setting all my furniture out of doors on the grass, bed and
bedstead making but one budget, dashed water on the floor, and
sprinkled white sand from the pond on it, and then with a broom
scrubbed it clean and white; and by the time the villagers had broken
their fast the morning sun had dried my house sufficiently to allow
me to move in again, and my meditations were almost uninterupted.
It was pleasant to see my whole household effects out on the grass,
making a little pile like a gypsy’s pack, and my three-legged table,
from which I did not remove the books and pen and ink, standing
amid the pines and hickories. They seemed glad to get out
themselves, and as if unwilling to be brought in. I was sometimes
tempted to stretch an awning over them and take my seat there. It
was worth the while to see the sun shine on these things, and hear
the free wind blow on them; so much more interesting most familiar
objects look out of doors than in the house. A bird sits on the next
bough, life-everlasting grows under the table, and blackberry vines
run round its legs; pine cones, chestnut burs, and strawberry leaves
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