Explain this quotation. Be sure to address the “wealth” Thoreau claims, his use of that wealth, and his views of the workshop or school:
Quotation from near the end of “Walden Pond”:
Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher’s desk.
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I agree with pohnpei397 and would add that much of our self-worth today comes either from the almighty dollar or performing honorably in a profession. We are a people who have come to value hard work which indeed has it's place in a society.
Thoreau's view of relection is something our society has adopted in bite-sized pieces. In many ways, Americans have come to spend time developing their character (by working in soup kitchens, doing things for others, reading a book, participating in relaxing days at the spa) and trying to de-stress. If we don't do these things and are just burdened by our work, many people believe we do not improve at our work but become stagnant when we don't feed our souls or take time to relax. We in essence become ineffective.
I think this is part of what he was getting at. We go to our jobs to make money because that's how our society operates. But day after day of that sometimes does nothing to nourish the soul.
He was proud to show that he didn't conform to the ideas of the world paying bills and being confined by work and debt. His wealth came from having a rich soul and a well-fed spirit which could only be done by hours of introspection and reflection.
In this passage, Thoreau is referring to his idea that people should not be too concerned with material goods or with what society thinks of them.
He says that he is rich, but that his wealth is not in money. That is because to him, wealth consisted of having the time to think and the ability to be "his own man."
To him, going to a "workshop" or factory would deprive him of his independence. It would force him to do what others told him to do.
To him, working as a teacher would not be much better. He would still have to do as he was told and he would have to behave the way society expected him to.
So he is saying here that leisure time is more valuable than material goods and that independence is more valuable than money.
Basically Thoreau is saying that leisuyre time is a kind of wealth, something that may ultimately be more valuable than money and the material things it might buy. So he doesn't regret the time he played hooky in the middle of the day -- the "most valued" part of the day -- and skipped out of work or other responsible duties, because, although doing so might have prevented him from beccoming richer in material goods, he's stored up a lot of experiences that he prizes higher.
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