With the air cooler and the first snowfall flirting at our windowsills, I took advantage of my Fall and Winter stay in New England to take my daily walk at one of the most famous attractions in Massachusetts, Walden Pond.  Located outside of Concord, Walden Pond, is a state reservation world renowned by the writings of Henry David Thoreau and his book, Walden.

As basis for a two-year long experiment, Thoreau asked the owner of Walden Pond’s surrounding lands and friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to live on the land from 1845-1847. During this time he composed the basis of Walden, which many on first glance believe is strictly an environmentalist book; however, the environment is only a fraction of the material that is housed in the thoughts and writing of Thoreau in Walden.  In fact, it is more about a man’s attempt to find the principles by which to live a proper life.

While walking the paths around Walden Pond, the silence and beauty of Thoreau’s oasis was apparent.  In solitude and simplicity, Thoreau found what his proper life would entail and perhaps what many of us should aspire to live. He was twenty-seven years old and a former school teacher during his time at Walden.  He took $28.00 to build the cabin that you see in the above picture.  Then, he furnished the cabin with only what he thought essential: a bed, a desk, and 3 chairs.  I believe the three chairs had particular meaning: one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.

What I learned from Thoreau’s time at Walden, walking the Walden paths, and reading the book, is that if you want to get the most from life, you must determine what is really IMPORTANT.  Thoreau did this by removing himself somewhat from the normal life of Concord, Massachusetts and as do others by taking time away from the daily grind of life, whether chosen or by accident, traveling to new places, or similar escapes to find the needed solitude and clarity of thought.

To further inspire you, I will leave you with only three items: a quote from Thoreau, a question, and my video of Walden Pond.

1)  Thoreau stated, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it has to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

2) Have you experienced what life can be when you remove the norm?

3) Video to inspire your trip to Walden Pond or another escape from the norm.

0 Responses

  1. I think that travel to more impoverished regions opened my eyes in a similar way as Thoreau’s solitude at the pond – and while I’m not ready to go quite that simplistic, the blatant consumerism and materialism really hit me in the face when I came home to the States and I now it’s a conscious effort to find a different joy in life, and in this case, it’s more about the people I have met along the way than what I have in my backpack 🙂

    1. Yes, I think there are different ways of achieving what Thoreau did. In fact, I think that traveling can be a wonderful way to change your norm.

  2. That really is an important message, isn’t it? Focus on what’s important. I think we all need to remember that, especially these days. Most of us have too much junk (literal and figurative) in our lives. That makes it really hard to focus on the essentials. Nice post.

    1. The focus is the key. We are now more than ever overwhelmed with clutter of information, priorities, and the like. To take back that focus is my goal for the remainder of this year and continue into 2010.