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.
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?