On Simplicity


Site of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond

Our life is frittered away by detail.
An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers,
or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest.
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand;
instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.
In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life,
such are the clouds and storms and quicksands
and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live,
if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all,
by dead reckoning,
and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds.
Simplify, simplify.
Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one;
instead of a hundred dishes, five;
and reduce other things in proportion.
— Walden
Henry David Thoreau


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