An “Out of Context” Interview: One-Year Anniversary Post

This article is dedicated to my sister Connie Epp who has been my champion and mentor throughout this writing journey. I love you.

Q:        Sara, let’s begin by discussing why you write what you write. Many blogs discuss current world issues or offer practical advice. You, however, regularly subject your audience to personal musings on growth and persistent inner struggles. Why is it that you talk so much about yourself on your blog?

A:        “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.” – Henry David Thoreau


funny out of context interview using Henry David Thoreau quotes

Wait, just wait…. I’m busting a gut here on my couch while I write this. Does anyone else think this is funny? Maybe I should explain myself before I continue.

First, do you know who Henry David Thoreau is? Well, I recently met him, or rather, I came across him amongst our local library stacks; and immediately, I fell in love with his words.

(image from newstatesman.com)

Who is Henry David Thoreau?

Henry was a mid-nineteenth century social reformer, philosopher, and scientist, among many other things. (For a more in depth look at who Mr. Thoreau was, check out this website: https://www.walden.org/thoreau/)

(Disclaimer: To be clear, I am not – as Henry was – a transcendentalist, naturalist, etc. I simply appreciate his writing skills.)

What Do I love about Mr. Thoreau?

I love that so many of his quotes make me think, “Yes! It’s like you’re in my head. I agree, exactly!

The problem with loving Henry’s words, however, is that I often have absolutely no background on why he wrote what he wrote, or what he actually meant. This is a problem because context is rather important. Isn’t it?

(image from http://bostonlitdistrict.org/ )

The Problem With Out-of-Context Quotes

Take, for instance, this example:

“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right.”

Henry David Thoreau

“Yes! It’s like you’re in my head. I agree, exactly!” I say.

Why? Because ever since my beautiful, wise sister Connie Epp once told me, “Sara, you have to believe what you believe,” I haven’t looked back.

Henry and I must, therefore, be on the same page. Right? Well… maybe not.

(image from audible.com)

What prompted Henry to pen these words?

Henry’s were words of rebellion against civil government taken from his essay Civil Disobedience. Which means that this awesome quote I found came from a man who wouldn’t pay a poll tax and then landed in jail for the night.

Well, garbage! This is quite disappointing because I’m not really interested in participating in a federal offense. Suddenly, Henry’s words don’t seem quite as inspiring.

(image from http://www.tarcherbooks.net)

What shall I do, now, with all of these beautiful words I’ve collected and loved?

(thinking)

Perhaps I shall amuse myself with them; and in turn, perhaps I shall amuse you.

(more thinking)

I know! Let’s have an out-of-context interview during which, for every question posed, I will answer with a Henry David Thoreau quote that, despite what he may have actually meant when he penned it, most reflects my sentiments today. Here we go…

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

An “Out of Context” Interview with Henry David Thoreau (as Me):

Q:        Sara, let’s begin by discussing why you write what you write. Many blogs discuss current world issues or offer practical advice. You, however, regularly subject your audience to musings on personal growth and persistent inner struggles. Why is it that you talk so much about yourself on your blog?

A:        “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Q:        Why do so many of your posts include thoughts on nature? You even go so far as to expose your audience to a painfully amateur poem that you penned last spring entitled Open Air?

A:        “A taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

Q:        In a world that shouts “equality!” yet at the same time seems bent on dividing itself according to issues of faith, appearance, marital status, morals, and even whether or not we eat the red Smarties last, what words of wisdom can you offer us?

A:        “All men are children, and of one family.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Q:        You’ve been labelled a bookworm, if not by others than certainly by yourself. Do you come from a family of bookworms, and is being an avid reader something you’re proud of?

A:        “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Q:        To be blunt, your blog doesn’t make any money. You have no assurance that it ever will. So, essentially, all the time you spend writing, formatting, and administrating – it’s all for nothing. What drives you to keep writing?

A:        “Do what you love. Know your own bone – gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it and gnaw it still.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Q:        You often talk about your struggles, things such as: doubt, as in your article Faith Vs. Doubt; slothfulness, as in your post titled A Tank of Grace; and imperfection, as in your composition of the short story Beloved. Knowing your weaknesses as you’ve revealed them in your blog, my question is this: Do you still like yourself?

A:        “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Q:        I’ve noticed that a certain theme runs rampant throughout your articles here on Sara, Living Free. You often talk about accepting and embracing who you are. Do you have further advice or words of wisdom on this topic that you’d like to share with the masses?

A:        “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Q:        Sara, at the end of your life when you’re old and grey and lying on your deathbed, what do you hope to be able to say with respect to your writing?

A:        “I am glad to hear that any words of mine, though spoken so long ago that I can hardly claim identity with their author, have reached you. It gives me pleasure, because I have therefore reason to suppose that I have uttered what concerns men, and that it is not in vain that man speaks to man. This is the value of literature.” – Henry David Thoreau

Q:        Mm, and what if I told you, while you lay there shriveling-ly old, that no one ever really read your blog or your books? What would you say then?

A:        “It is enough if I have pleased myself with writing—I am then sure of an audience.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Q:        Can we backtrack just a moment to the topic of theme? In your autobiographical testimony How to Find True Freedom, you state that in your search to find yourself, you found “only fragments of me and I was looking for the whole.” Where are you at now? Have you found the path to true freedom? Have you finally found your “whole” self?

A:        “Let me forever go in search of myself; never for a moment think that I have found myself; be a stranger to myself, never a familiar, seeking acquaintance still.” – Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Q:        Brilliant. Well, we only have time for one last question. So, here it is: What gem of advice would you like to share with all the other writers, bloggers, novelists, speakers, mothers, fathers… well, everyone out there in the world today?

A:        “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” – Henry David Thoreau

Q:        Your desire to pumpkin-sit is not inspirational advice. Don’t be cheeky. Answer the question.

A:        (smirk) “Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau


Well, I hope you enjoyed this silly yet true interview. Thank you for sharing your precious time with me by reading my blog. I appreciate you!

And remember:

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau

With love,

Sara Jane Kehler

(I want to send out a huge thank you to www.spiritualquotestoliveby.com and www.walden.org for providing many of the quotes used in this article.)

7 thoughts on “An “Out of Context” Interview: One-Year Anniversary Post

Add yours

  1. Thanks! 🙂

    What’s your first language?

    I only speak English, so I’m always amazed by those who can speak more than one language. A lovely woman I know speaks Russian, German, Low-German, and English. Incredible! I think sometimes she feels insecure that her English is quite broken, but I’m just so impressed that she keeps learning and trying. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really Enjoyed your Post!
    That was fantastic!
    😂🤣
    Seriously though I absolutely love the last quote you shared about being yourself !
    Thanks Sara (and Connie)💞

    Liked by 2 people

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