April 22nd, 2012 8:57 AM by Lehel S.
Can't Life Be Better Than It Is?
In High School, I read Henry Thoreau's book, "Walden," for
the first time and even then I was haunted by his complaint
that "Most men live lives of quiet desperation." While he's
famous for that quote, most people don't know the chapter it
He has a long essay on the pain he sees in most people's
lives. He isn't talking about the illness or trauma or
disasters that can strike any of us, but the fact that so
many good people, doing the best they can, are stuck in a
sort of limbo where they aren't terribly miserable, but they
aren't very happy, either. He talks about people working all
month to pay the bills, with nothing to show for it. He
talks about people doing work that doesn't suit them, or
with lifestyles that are bereft of beauty, humor, art or
He talks about people "settling" for less than life could be.
He talks about people who are bored, always looking for some
temporary pleasure to distract or humor them. He talks about
people who are so busy with the ordinary tasks of life that
they have no time or energy or passion to explore the
unlimited potential of being fully human and fully alive.
And he says this is a kind of "desperation."
This week, our culture's fascination with the Casey Anthony
trial made me think about these things again. Too often, we
fall prey to the media's desire to dazzle us with the
bizarre that we forget to make the most of our own lives,
here and now.
It is true, of course, that we are all fascinated by the
unusual and the extraordinary. Of course we are! There's no
shame or problem with that, so long as it is only a brief
distraction from our primary focus of living a great life.
We live in a time when anything that happens, anywhere on
earth, comes into our homes and shows up on our smart phones
instantly. In many ways, and used appropriately, our access
to instant communication is a wonderful thing! No one can
But for some of us, the daily news plus our daily routine
have become a substitute for expressing the highest and
best that is in us. We focus on the government deficit, or
the threat of war, or the Casey Anthony trial, along with
our daily work, and these things become a substitute for
truly living the best life we can, according to our highest
Don't let that happen to you!
Every single day, we are faced with the choice of how we
will live. We can worry about the news, or we can build the
life we want. We can expend enormous energy on big, exciting
problems "out there" (about which we can individually do
little) or we can address the challenges of living the life
we choose. It's up to each of us how we use our time and
talents, every day.
In the days of summer, we can build sand castles (and
memories) with our children, or we can focus on a tragedy in
Florida. We can read the best books ever written, or we can
watch more television. We can build our businesses and
develop our skills, or we can fret about the economy. We can
move and dance and make our own music, or we download more
Throughout history, most people have been hard pressed to do
more than survive, but that is not us! We have the best
education and resources any generation has ever had. We can
enjoy fine wine for a few dollars a glass. We can enjoy
great music, or great conversation, or listen to the
smartest people on earth any time we wish, often in person
and anytime via recordings. The world is our oyster! And
yet, too often, we let it pass us by.
This week, determine that you will live your own life, in
your own way, to the very best of your ability. Be as
eccentric and unique and joyful as you truly are! Do even
one new thing or one thing differently. Spend one hour
exploring the highest and best that is in you. I think
The Philip E. Humbert Group, Inc