Comes from "Where I Lived, And What I Lived For" the section I'm talking about starts with "...I went to the woods because..."
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The narrator disputes the wisdom of old people, most of whom have not truly "tried life," and the value of tradition. A life lived doing what most consider "good" would in his eyes be wasted. Living "primitive or frontier life" will allow him to discover what he calls "necessary of life" for humans, food, shelter, clothing, and fuel, the latter three which he argues are not fundamental necessities, because the sun can provide warmth enough in some climates. Riches and possessions are responsible for the degeneration of the human spirit, and Thoreau addresses his words about their destructive power specifically to the discontented "mass of men" who complain of their lots in life.
This generalization couldn't apply more...... we all live our lives hustling about with no time for ourselves....... we are exhausted, distracted, and because of this we miss out on so many of the world's wonders.