I always say that the most important influence in my life was Henry Thoreau. He was really a kind of cosmic existentialist, in the Buddhist sense. His influence spanned from John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Tolstoy to Gandhi to Martin Luther King. I see himj as part of that Scots/Frenchie wave that helped betgin environmental progressivism, which continued on with fighting Bob LaFollet, even though his ancestors were not from France proper. Guernsey or one of those isles.
But he was really more of a resonance to me than an influence. Indeed, he had my mother's eyes, though larger, with the droop that my eyes have. He was an avid walker, not just like myself, but like my mother. I have no doubt that his father was a farmer, as I know that I epi-inheritted my love of gardening from my father, who was raised on a farm in Ireland, before he became an engineer. He also spent time cutting down trees just before I was born - hence my love of tree management. You know, when you are in the womb, you get influenced. George Harrison brought Western Civilisation towards Indian enlightenment, because, whilst in the womb, his Irish Catholic mother played Indian music!
An major influence to Thoreau's civil-disobedience came from the poem, "Ode to a Skylark," by Shelley, one of my favourite poets. Thoreau was also into the Greek classics, bards of the Enlightenment, and Eastern Spirituality, as was I. He grew up in a strict religionist family which, in those days, was comperable to Catholicism, as did I. He was shunned by his family for his abnormal religious beliefs, as was I. Thoreau was lucky enough to have an older sister who supported his defiance of church demands, which is something I lacked.
When I was a kid, I had unique thoughts. And they evolved partly from what religion taught me. Religion taught me that God is everywhere, (all knowing and all powerful of course). So, religion was saying this to me in order to keep me from committing sins and crimes, basically. It was a low-level sort of morality. Like the Olde Testament, booga booga. Or the Torah, booga booga. But I thought, as have many others, "well, if God is everywhere, then he is also in the people I meet, and the nature I explore, and even - in me!" But somehow, which perplexes me to this day, the Catholic Church finds such thoughts incomprehensible and heretical, even though they follow from its own doctrines. All religions come up against this - this the challenge to its temporal, hierarchical structure of power. The basic message: individual awareness. So much so, that individuals freely choose to participate in a group.
Thoreau was impressed by the renowned R.W. Emerson, who happened to move to town. Thoreau saw in Emerson a resonance of his enlightenment through communion with nature, finding the higher meaning of it all. But Emerson was a little too lofty, abstract and detached. So, the two ended up arguing a lot. Well, I went through the same thing. In high-school, I met a guy who was super-smart, nerdy and funny, and was expected to be the class' valedictorian. We had great times and forged a whole new mindset and politic for the student body. However, we began this correspondence over religion, and he was terminally condemned to his beliefs. he was on a mission to be right, no matter what, and his arguments never made sense. Basically, Faith, (i.e., blind obedience), brings salvation. Well, that's what every cult follower believes. Anyway, he would have continued on as the renowned Emerson, if it were not the sabotage of my own ideas: That the poor must be serviced before the skyscrapers. So, his guilt sent him on a mission to help the poor, not even aware that he was still competing with me. One day, I ended up homeless, seeking his aid, but that is a story to be found elsewhere in this journal, dear reader.
Anyway, the arguments, I didn't need. The family dysfunction, I didn't need. The church blame, I didn't deserve. I followed my heart, as I always had. What a lot of garbage gets thrown at you when you are goring up, all from from losers trying to control people. I chucked that for nature. and I forgive it, because it is a part of human nature. Some humans.
I continued on in my belief that if "god" is in everything, then studying everything may help show what is true or real. Interestingly, this is the exact turn that many philosophers took during the Enlightenment, when they, too, were breaking free of the Catholic political vice. And this became the pursuit of science for those philosophers, but for me it was something stronger. I understood the limits of science, as I had understood the limits of religion. Seriously, everyone. You cannot turn to anything else in this world to be someone other that what you are. Live now, and be now, and do the best for yourself that you can, hopefully with others.
Well, I ended up with a female I thought was free from all this shit, although she proved herself to be completely consumed by it and she helped destroy my life. Meanwhile, so did CFS. All the journals I had kept, promising so much, a total of 2 million words, were destroyed by a so-called friend, whom I have more to say about some other time. I became homeless in Philly, then returned home, completely ill, where my siblings eventually evicted me, even though my mother had told me that she wanted me to have the house.
The bullshit world keeps moving on, grabbing and taking and blaming and hating and exploiting and devouring, no-matter if you believe in Thoreau, Stalin, Hitler, Trump, or just yourself. Just a transformation of a lot of people's consciousness will never do the trick. What is needed is real theory, real work, real math, real politics. A lot of real writing also helps. But, you know what? Most writing just gets swallowed up in the endless criticisms of history. It is power, it is wealth, that will change things, UNLESS there is crisis or revolution of such vast extent that the destruction allows the less fortunate to remake the world, properly, sanely. This is why I always feel so one with disappointment, as CFS ravages me, because I can never get around to writing up a new economics, and so forth.
Thoreau was a beacon to the world of the 1960's, and then to the world facing dangerous climate change - and now, Thoreau is an inspiration to people confronting their own solitude, the meaning of life, and the omnipotence of Nature, in the time of life during Corona. I think, we might all, do well, with a little walk-about....
Sorry, but I cannot lead to to the precise link here. However, if you go to TTBOOK.ORG, you should be able to find the interview regarding Thoreau, especially when it comes to walking, and finding your own path...