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.