Thoreau’s View on Money and Work
- Walter Payton
Money isn’t everything. Henry David Thoreau believed that life was to precious to work all the time. He wanted only wanted to work as much as he needed. Thoreau writes,“For more than five years I maintained myself thus solely by the labor of my hands, and I found that, by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.” He found the concept of work to be set back and that it often slows people down. He said that in a race between a train and a man on foot, a man on foot will always win. He states this because in a race from Concord to Fitchburg a train ticket costs one dollar, which is about as much as a days work. So, instead of working a full day and riding the train later he argues that its faster to just walk. Thoreau writes,
“I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the meanwhile have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening. Walking may be more tiring and more painful, but instead of wasting money and waiting an extra day you can get there on time without wasting money.”
Thoreau is correct, the man had to get one days work of money to pay for the train ride. By the time he had got the money, Thoreau would already be in Fitchburg. This feeds off of the idea of money isn’t everything. People only need as much as they need to live. People may work hard to pay for a lovely vacation but of course this isn’t necessary. Going back to the first quote, six weeks could pay all of the expenses of living. Money and work can be done quickly and the rest of the time being free. People may choose to work more to buy fancy and cool things but Thoreau knows this aren’t a necessity and those things aren’t part of his lifestyle. Living like Thoreau is not a lifestyle that most will choose but it is a way of living. There is more to life than money and work.