What does Thoreau mean when he says he wants to shave life close and “reduce it to its lowest terms?” What did he hope this would do?

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Thoreau wanted to live simply and deliberately. Thoreau's felt that most men live lives of quiet desperation He felt that he wasn't "sucking the marrow" out of life: Life in the "rat race" was an illusion for him.Thoreau wanted to feel life; he wanted to chop wood and carry water. He wanted to live life in the moment.  The metaphor can be made to our own lives when we fall into a comfortable yet mind numbing existence. We don't live deliberately but rather through smartphones, Facebook, and "reality shows" like the movie's title.