On Quiet Desperation

Every adolescent recoils at the prospect of becoming like most adults–caught up in the vicious cycle of paying the mortgage and keeping the lawn cut, having lost touch with any sense of the wonder and magic of being alive.  And yet nearly every adult ends up there, themselves once adolescents whose vision of life as adventure and the living out of childhood dreams has slowly died as a candle’s flame slowly dwindles and disappears.
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into adulthood.” –Thomas Huxley
“Genius is nothing more than childhood recovered by will, a childhood now equipped for self-expression with the capacities of an adult”. –Charles Pierre Baudelaire
These quotes almost beg us to remember another famous quote by Henry David Thoreau, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”.
Why is it so common for most of us to live out Thoreau’s observation?  Is it possible once having arrived at this soul-deadening place to break out of the prison?  I think the first step is to begin to notice the bars, to stare long enough at our internal fetters so that we can even begin to name them, and to understand the one big decision or the thousand tiny unnoticed decisions by which we led ourselves to our own dungeon.  This takes courage and work and a reconnection to the recoil of our youth to the very kind of life that many of us currently find ourselves living.

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