29 August 2010

On Purpose

I was trolling for some enticing tidbits of American literature with which to tempt my students into enthusiasm for what probably feels to them like dusty old writing by dead white guys who were never on Facebook.  I flipped the anthology open  and found just the right page from Thoreau, no mean accident, I'm sure.  Often quoted, yes to the point of cliche, but still worth visiting here is the following passage from Walden, Chapter 2, "Where I Lived and What I Lived For":
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 did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation unless it was quite necessary.  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...
When we begin a yoga practice, it's not unusual for an instructor to encourage us to "set your intention to be present in your practice today."  I think old Henry David (who, by the way, studied the ancient texts of Hinduism and Yoga) offers some real insight on the matter.