“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.” Henry David Thoreau
As 2013 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about Thoreau’s experiment to live deliberately. In fact, my mind, soul, and spirit have so exploded with the possibilities that I’ve decided to try his experiment for myself.
2014 will be the year that I live deliberately.
There. I said it. I’m going to do this year what I absolutely refused to do last year: I’m going to set a New Year’s resolution. For those of you who joined our journey last year, you’ll remember that I pitched a Texas-sized hissy fit refusing to set any New Year’s resolutions because they had become encumbrances of failure instead of testaments of success.
Last year the only thing I was willing to do was to consider Jesus and get to know him better. In the process of rejecting goal-setting last year, I accomplished the most elusive one of all: I wrote my own book and published it.* Not only that, but I was asked to speak at several women’s events where I was able to use the material to encourage others. 2013 turned out to be a truly amazing year.
Ridding myself of the obligation to write, freed me to write with abandon. What is that? It’s not surprising to people who know me well. Tell me I have to do something, and I’ll finesse a refusal. Obligate me, and I’ll disappear into a vapor. Order me around, and I’ll dig my heels in all the way to China. I do not like to be told what to do. I dislike it from others, and I especially dislike it from myself.
So, why would I let some dead guy tell me what to do a hundred and fifty years after he died? What am I thinking?
There’s something compelling about Thoreau’s invitation. His enticement to the unknown feels exciting to me somehow this year, and I’m anxious to join him. I keenly feel his call to adventure and believe the intrigue will be well worth any adversity along the way.
Donna Tallman, you are neither adventurous nor are you a risk taker!
Yeah, I heard that, whichever one of you thought that to yourself. Well, apparently I’m getting a lot more adventurous since I’ve been living on the road for the last two years. I don’t have much else to lose anymore so why not gallop off into the woods after adventure…it can’t be anymore harrowing than what I’m already doing.
So, off we go!
My first order of business was to write down all the things I have wanted to do but never had the time, money, or gumption to. I stopped after the second entry.
Something had gone awry.
Is living deliberately simply creating a “bucket list” and checking the tasks off one by one? I don’t think so; it has to be more than that. After stopping myself, I could see that living deliberately has hidden implications. Living deliberately must also include “meaning” somehow.
Accomplishing tasks on a bucket list may not mesh with the larger purpose of my life, so it won’t contribute anything to deliberate living. Intentional living has to also include “purposeful” living. Since I am a believer in Jesus Christ, that meaning or purpose is automatically attached to his love for me.
So, I’ll try this again…
Living deliberately in 2014 will offer me the exciting adventure of intentionally pursuing the purpose for which God has called me.
So that’s my starting point. But as soon as I figured that out, my mind instantly flooded with a list of questions, reservations, and anxieties about the whole thing. I’m just going to list them here for you – unedited – so you can see where I might be going this year and what may bar the way to my own “success.”
- Why did Thoreau go to the woods to live deliberately? Do I have to go into “nature” to live deliberately? What if I can’t do that?
- If I haven’t lived deliberately, have I ever “lived” at all?
- Do I believe I will begin to live again when all of my possessions are out of storage and I have a place of my own?
- If so, what am I doing in the meantime? Am I waiting to live?
- I have financial limitations. Can I still live deliberately when I don’t have a lot of money?
- Is life simply a series of cosmic events that I react to, respond to, resolve, or run from?
- Is there a place in Scripture that confirms living deliberately? Thoreau was a transcendentalist; I’d rather not delve into living deliberately without Biblical support for the concept.
- What impact does technology have on my ability to live deliberately?
- How can I preserve what I experience this year?
- What is my purpose for being here and how can I align my life with that purpose?
- What are the keys to living deliberately?
You probably have your own questions and anxieties. Don’t be afraid of them. Write them down and let’s learn together. I’m anxious to make 2014 even more amazing than 2013!
Here’s my first opportunity to live deliberately:
There’s a hill near where we are living that has been antagonizing me ever since we got here. It’s an old dumping ground for fill-dirt complete with intense altitude, incline, and moguls. Whenever I look at it I wonder how many times I could run up the face of it, but that’s insane. #1) I don’t run, and #2) I hate exercise, but the hill won’t release me. Yesterday, I went over and took pictures of it hoping to stop its antagonism, but it’s only gotten worse. (BTW the picture has managed to conveniently conceal the hill’s most formidable qualities!)
I may have to run up there today to shut it up once and for all. I’ll let you know what happens…
What will you do today to live deliberately?
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.
* Considering Jesus was published in October of 2013 to give to groups I speak to or people I meet along the highways and byways of life. Because I am not business-minded, it is unavailable for purchase online at the moment. I will let y’all know when I get that sorted out.