What is Important

Oh The Humanities

Bill Abersold

The Stranger

Tell a Story Online

Pope’s 10


Not Me

My Dad

Two Responses

Lessons from the Greatest Generation

Senior Citizens

Talk of the Dying

Why I Voted for Obama

All Are Redeemed

What does it mean to have lived?

Cultrual Shifts & Brain Scans

Words of Wisdom

Written by Leslie Escoto

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


What does it mean to have lived? Is having a life determined by what we accumulate? If I have a “hot” car in my driveway, own a home with three extra bedrooms and a television the size of a drive-in movie screen, and live where a

Leslie Escoto photo with I went to the woods

Painting by Leslie Escoto

sea breeze blows through the tendrils of my perfectly colored, cut and coiffed hair does it mean I have lived more fully than the next? What if I don’t own anything, drive a “green” car, live in a rented modular home, hear owls and coyotes rather than seagulls and waves on my morning walk, drink tap water and Folgers rather than Pellegrino and Starbucks? 

Will I mean more to society if I join tax resentment “tea parties” rather than pay my fair share willingly; support the NRA rather than the EPA, wear diamonds rather than be a diamond in the rough; operate as a “compassionate conservative” rather than just being compassionate; support the booming plastic surgery industry rather than grow old gracefully; read Oprah and Dr. Phil instead of Steinbeck and Hemmingway; ignore the elderly rather than care for them; buy over-bred “pets” instead of rescuing abused and neglected animals? 

Am I more loveable if I have the body of a top model or a playboy centerfold? Am I more entitled to find true love if I have never made any mistakes in life? Does the state of my wallet mean more than the depth of my character to the man of my dreams? 

Is living defined by consuming or contributing? Does being alive mean you gather things rather than experiences? Will the accumulation of wealth mean more in the end than offerings of generosity and love? Am I destined to just exist if I resist the temptations of getting rather than giving? 

I can see the certainty of answers to these questions, hear a soft voice that encourages right rather than convenience, smell the freshness of humility over arrogance, taste the sweetness of generosity rather than greed, and feel the strength of compassion over cynicism. But will I be able to have the courage to go into the woods and build a deliberate life, to learn rather than preach, to exist simply with dignity, to learn to love myself so that others may follow, and to experience life as it is not as I desire it to be? And in the end will I be able to say that yes, I truly lived?