Monday, March 10, 2008

a beaten path

It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, and philosopher

Before I went to law school, long ago, in a land far away, people gave me lots of advice on what to read. There were the standard recommendations, Stern's The Buffalo Creek Disaster, Llewellyn's The Bramble Bush, Turow's One-L, Woodward's The Brethren, and of course, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the last three of these the summer before law school -- but I also read a lot of Thoreau. My motivation was based on the following advice I read in a pre-law manual: "Don't forget what was important to you before law school." This speaks to the real fear that law school has a way of changing you, challenging you to the core, and altering your perception of people and the world. So I turned to Thoreau in an attempt to hold onto that which was hopeful, idealistic and often unreasonable. It's not that I always agreed with what I read, but there was then, and still is today, something that resonates when I read Thoreau. A desire to simplify. A longing to explore and experience the natural. The challenge to live deliberately. And I guess you could say, a dissatisfaction with the present order of things and a restlessness to find an alternate path.

Here's a neat blog that posts a new quote each day from Thoreau's extensive writings.

Above: Snow marks the beaten path of the Appalachian Trail between Round Bald and Jane Bald in the Roan Highlands near Carver's Gap on the TN/NC border.


  1. I love love love that photo, Mark.......and the rest of the posts fits so well with that shot......very thought provoking :)

  2. Interesting reading list, I wonder did they prepare you for law school, and did you indeed change? I imagine that reading Thoreau helped to keep you grounded.

    Reading your blog and seeing your great photos makes me wonder if you ever became a lawyer, and if so, it seems you wish you were on the trail instead of in the office.

  3. Hi Susan - I think I stayed true to self throughout law school - but it certainly was a transformative experience! I did become a lawyer, however, today I don't practice law but instead teach law and business at the undergraduate level, which I love. I have wonderful students and colleagues!


Thanks for visiting and joining in the discussion on Appalachian Treks! Your comment will be sent to me to be approved. Sorry for this added step, but it is necessary to avoid spam. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!