Sara Maitland's "A Book of Silence" makes note of something that Thoreau mentioned in one of his works, that a man's true wealth can be measured by how much free time he has. What kind of a life is it to spend most of the time working or occupied in other various forms of drudgery (cleaning, mowing the yard, washing one's undercarriage)? Sara says that many times when she is thinking of purchasing something, she'll ask herself, "Am I willing to work X number of hours so that I can afford to buy this?" On most occasions, she'll say no.
Like Thoreau, working 40 hours a week has never really appealed to me; I feel the upper 20's and lower 30's are more appropriate. Working less gives me more time to relax, not that I can't be in a relaxed state while on the job, but it's sometimes difficult, most notably because of the restrictions involved in wearing briefs. And what's the point of having so many nerve endings in the feet when they're all but deadened by wearing shoes? And don't even get me started on wearing ties. I discussed my gripe with those accursed things here.
Here are some more of my favorite quotes by the author of "Walden":
Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.