Thoreau suggested that the busyness of life — the frenetic pace of our jobs, the demands of our bank accounts, the status that we seek and never find — should never be the exclusive focus of living.

He challenged: Can we free ourselves from the “rush and the heave of the external world”?

The challenge continues for readers who negotiate our world of existential anxiety, gross injustice, mass conformity and environmental degradation.

Thoreau speaks clearly, urgently, for our time, but only if we are willing to listen. Here’s what I heard him say:

“You might as well get back to simplicity. You’ll be no less happy, and the biosphere will thank you.”