On the Road with Thoreau
edited: Wednesday, May 03, 2006
By Rosa Sophia
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, May 03, 2006
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Non-conformity does not work.
"Eight-hundred fifty dollars, please," they tell me.
"Would you like an arm with that as well?" I ask.
There is something that I can't understand.
Why do you say, "please," when what you really mean is, "give me all your hard-earned savings"?
Car inspection is up. I remember when I was a kid (which feels like yesterday) and I had my whole life planned out. Everything.
"Mama," I said, "I'm never going to have a car! I'm going to have a horse and wagon and I'm going to live in a cave in the middle of nowhere. I won't need anyone. All the animals will be my friends."
Like Henry David Thoreau, I decided that I was a pure-bred transcendentalist at the age of ten. I wouldn't find out about Walden until high school, but when I did, I fell in love with the idea of separating oneself from society. That was when I realized that complete non-conformity was utterly impossible.
Thoreau had done a half-assed job of it. But who could blame him? It's kind of funny, actually. The more money you have, the easier it is to live in a ramshackle building in the middle of the forest. Sure, Thoreau had good ideas, but he also had cash. And I doubt very much that he would have been willing to spend his days as a penniless bum on the streets of Philly just for the sake of his philosophy.
What I really don't understand is why people talk about giving true meaning to their lives and then spend the majority of their years working thankless jobs. Where's the fulfillment? The enjoyment? Why are so many people content with staying in the same place their whole lives, even on the same street and in the same house?
Unlike the wealthy adventurers, people like me have to pay bills and accept those thankless jobs, despite the need for exploration and learning. I'm stuck in a world where everyone around me is completely fine with staying in the same job for twenty-five or thirty years. The only problem is, how do you get out when you can't afford it?
The next time someone demands an exorbinate amount of your well-earned cash, remember Thoreau. Remember freedom. Remember all the costs that come with freedom. Don't get discouraged. Pay the damn bill, give them the arm and the leg they want.
Somehow, we can all be free. It might seem difficult at first, but we can. There is one thing I wouldn't suggest doing, though.
"Eight-hundred fifty dollars, please."
I stare at the man behind the counter and give him a sly smile.
"No, I don't think so," I say. Then I run out, jump in my car and leave before they can stop me.