Having each some shingles of thought well dried, we sat and whittled them.

What did Henry David Thoreau mean by:

Having each some shingles of thought well dried, we sat and whittled them.

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This quote is a metaphor that conveys the process of contemplation and refining of thoughts. Shingles, in this context, represent thoughts or ideas. Just as shingles are dried and shaped to serve a specific purpose, our thoughts too need to be processed and refined. The act of ‘whittling’ signifies the process of refining, shaping, and perfecting these ideas. It suggests that our thoughts, like raw shingles, are not immediately useful or valuable. They need to be dried, representing the time and space we allow for our thoughts to mature, and then whittled, signifying the active process of refining and perfecting these thoughts.

In today’s fast-paced world, we are often expected to think quickly, make instant decisions, and constantly produce new ideas. Thoreau’s metaphor reminds us of the importance of taking time to process our thoughts, to allow them to mature and then to actively work on refining them. This could mean taking time each day to reflect, to question our assumptions, to consider different perspectives, and to continually refine our understanding.

In terms of personal development, this quote could inspire us to cultivate patience and diligence in our mental processes. Instead of rushing to conclusions or acting on impulse, we might learn to sit with our thoughts, giving them time to ‘dry’ and then carefully ‘whittle’ them into more refined ideas or decisions. This could lead to greater clarity, better decision-making, and more profound understanding in our personal and professional lives.

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