What I mean by that is that the point of life, as I see it, is not to write books or scale mountains or sail oceans, but to achieve happiness, and preferably an unselfish happiness.
On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.
I have lately been surveying the Walden woods so extensively and minutely that I now see it mapped in my minds eye - as, indeed, on paper - as so many mens wood-lots, and am aware when I walk there that I am at a given moment passing from such a ones wood-lot to such anothers. I fear this particular dry knowledge may affect my imagination and fancy, that it will not be easy to see so much wildness and native vigor there as formerly.
Because of that she had never had enough energy to be herself, a person who, like everyone else in the world, needed other people in order to be happy. But other people were so difficult. They reacted in unpredictable ways, they surrounded themselves with defensive walls, they behaved just as she did, pretending they didn't care about anything. When someone more open to life appeared, they either rejected them outright or made them suffer, consigning them to being inferior, ingenuous.
All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are 'sides,' and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot.
There was a small wooden gazebo built out over the water; Isabelle was sitting in it, staring out across the lake. She looked like a princess in a fairy tale, waiting at the top of her tower for someone to ride up and rescue her. Not that traditional princess behavior was like Isabelle at all. Isabelle with her whip and boots and knives would chop anyone who tried to pen her up in a tower into pieces, build a bridge out of the remains, and walk carelessly to freedom, her hair looking fabulous the entire time.