Posts Tagged ‘Thoreau’

Taking Chances

January 25, 2012

As I’ve noted here before, in 1969, when I was 17 years old, I went to Europe on a backpacking trip. My main destination was the island of Crete in Greece. I went back a few years ago to do research for my book Street Song and while there, came upon a book called Winds of Crete by David MacNeil Doren. Doren was an American who, with his Swedish wife, spent several years living in small villages around the island. His time in Crete began in late 1960, and Crete then was very much the same as I found it nine years later.  Globalization has brought drastic changes to the place, so I was happy to find something that would help me remember the way it was when I was there.

I was looking through the book again last night and found an interesting passage. Doren was talking about how he and his wife, while in their 30s, became thoroughly fed up with the modern world. They wanted to get away to a place like Crete, which was inexpensive and not as crazed as the societies in which they grew up. They longed for peace and quiet in order to think over the direction they wanted their lives to take. The problem was that, as cheap as Crete was then, they didn’t have enough money between them to last much more than a month. But they went anyway and hoped for the best. Doren writes:

Common sense was all against our making such a move, but I remembered the words of Thoreau: “…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

This sums up for me what is lacking in our lives nowadays: We no longer take chances. Taking a chance is limited to the stock market. But the universe wants us to take chances and it supports us whenever we do—so long as the chance taken leads us toward an understanding of the heart. I don’t see this as a metaphor. It really happens.