During the winter thaw, ns went for a go in Concord’s Sleepy hole Cemetery. Henry David Thoreau’s tomb is in ~ the summit the a steep hilltop dubbed “Author’s Ridge,” i beg your pardon is frequented by tourists making pilgrimages to the graves of Concord’s nineteenth-century literary residents. ~ above this particular afternoon, i sought solace and inspiration top top Sleepy Hollow’s paths. Miscellaneous life situations and personal stresses had actually piled up end the winter months and also I was feeling doubtful, unsure of just how to manage the uncertainties of life.

You are watching: The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Balmy temperatures quickly melted the eye drifts accumulated from two recent storms. Tiny rivulets reduced through the receding banks. The melt-water swirled right into murky eddies and also turbid, stagnant puddles, which i splashed through. In the warm of the sun, I gotten rid of my jacket and also walked in my brief sleeves. Closing my eyes, listening come the bird-song indigenous the tree along the cemetery’s glacial ridges, ns stood soaking in the warmth on my bare skin. Then the wind blew a patent cold breeze off the snow banks, dispelling the satisfied assurance that spring’s return; this to be a false spring, a teasing spring; it to be winter still. March is frequently a changeable month with tumultuous fluctuations in weather. Together the old adage assures, a mild start will in every probability turn tenaciously to snowy storms again before true feather flourishes.

As ns walked, the saturated ground had given way beneath my feet in places, yet at Thoreau’s tomb it to be dry enough for me to sit top top the bare earth. It is not inexplicable for this point out to it is in littered through mementoes left by visitors. However, at this time of year there were fewer. Amongst the rocks, pens, pencils, and also pine twigs, ns noticed a mollusk shell – a strikingly odd thing to discover in winter top top a wooded brand-new England hilltop. At when it holy spirit transported me come the surrounding shores the Walden Pond, now practically synonymous through Thoreau, and also to the furthermore shores of Cape Cod, whereby he walked throughout three separate excursions.


For all the wit and wisdom distilled into his writings, Thoreau knowledgeable misgivings and anxieties, too. In one 1841 city he speak of himself together a rootless and also “dropping” flower bud seeking his life’s purpose.

He wrote, “I am a thoreau of vain strivings tied…”<1>

In his journal the vault summer, he advised himself, “be thankful for every hour, and accept what it brings. …No day will have actually been wholly misspent, if one sincere, kind page has actually been written. Allow the everyday tide leave part deposit on this pages, as it pipeline sand and shells top top the shore.”<2>

The covering on Thoreau’s grave reminded me that each day’s slow, but persistent build-up amounts to something real, even if that seems however a serial of sand today.


“How vigilant we are! determined not to live by belief if we have the right to avoid it; every the day long on the alert, at night us unwillingly to speak our prayers and also commit ourselves come uncertainties. For this reason thoroughly and also sincerely space we compelled come live, reverencing ours life, and also denying the opportunity of change. This is the just way, we say; however there are as numerous ways as there have the right to be attracted radii from one centre. All readjust is a wonder to contemplate; however it is a wonder which is taking place every instant.”<3>

In the moment, as I sat looking at the covering in the cemetery, i heard in mine mind: the price of something is the quantity of life girlfriend exchange for it.<4>

For every anxious minute we exchange a moment of peace. Us cannot manage the swell the life approximately us – the attributed pressures, the frenzied societal expectations, those cases we put on oneself to have actually already accomplished something particular, fear change, or even failures. Us can, however, be grateful for the sand and shells, knowing numerous paths can be taken from here.

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Kristi young name is a doctoral candidate in the American and brand-new England Studies, Boston University and also is a historic interpreter in ~ The Old Manse, the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, the Henry David Thoreau’s Birthplace, and also Louisa might Alcott’s Orchard House. 

<1> thing One, “Economy.”

<2> This is a paraphrase; the actual Thoreau estimates is: “…the price of a thing is the quantity of what i will call life which is required to be exchanged because that it, immediately or in the lengthy run,” Walden, “Economy.”

<3> “Sic Vita” was very first published in the Transcendentalist journal the Dial in July 1841. It was later on republished in A main of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849).