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To Live Deliberately

I recently came across this quote by Thoreau and it got me thinking about why trapping appeals so much to me:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and  see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived...."

The woods was a sanctuary for Thoreau and the setting in which he penned some of his most famous works.  It is a setting in which life is reduced to its essential facts.  To "live deliberately," if I understand Thoreau, is to be a part of this setting rather than an observer of it, and to make the elements and processes of the natural world your business.

Maybe there aren't many transcendentalist trappers, but I think many of us intuitively understand what Thoreau so eloquently said.  Out on the trapline we "front only the essential facts of life" in the age old contest between man and animal.  Nature's most basic relationship, that of predator and prey, forces man and animal to match instincts, learn and adapt.  This contest is one of the most basic processes of nature.  Thus, the trapper does not appreciate nature from a distance or as a mere observer.  He is part of it, ingrained in the very working of it, as much as the animals he pursues.  

People enjoy nature in different ways, but there is nothing else like trapping that makes man both a participant in nature and a student of it.  To learn what it has to teach is the alternative to discovering that you have not lived, according to Thoreau.

You sometimes hear leftist anti's talk in mystical language about one-ness with nature, but nature is just a political cause to most of them.  I bet a good portion of them inhabit cubicles in downtown office buildings and would have little idea what Thoreau was talking about.  I don't know about all the mystical one-ness stuff, but I think I understand what Thoreau meant when he said he went into the woods to "live deliberately."  Life can sometimes feel accidental.  For me, trapping makes it more deliberate.

Walden Pond, where Thoreau lived from 1845-1847 and wrote Walden.
(image from Wikipedia at this link
Do you think he trapped muskrats?   


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