Henry David Thoreau is most remembered as the man who lived for a time in a cabin at a place called Walden Pond, and for the book he wrote about living there, Walden: Or Life in the Woods. In Walden, Thoreau states, “Men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He believes that is because we occupy ourselves with material pursuits and neglect our spiritual natures and he advises us to “Simplify, simplify...” because the more material goods we desire, the more we must work to earn the money to acquire such goods, and the less time we therefore have to live.
Living to Thoreau is not a material endeavor, it is a spiritual one. He believes in the possibility of every individual to elevate themselves to a height not before reached, should we choose to connect to the wisdom that is there within all of us, and to seek out more than what exists for us in the physical world. He states, "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor," and his statement, “The universe is wider than our views of it,” reminds us of the limitless possibilities that exist for us when we are in touch with our spiritual natures.
Once, in response to an inquiry from a scientifically-minded man, Thoreau stated, "I am a mystic, a transcendentalist and a natural philosopher to boot." This was the best way he could think to explain who he was because as a scientist who "did not believe in the higher laws" the man would have no way of understanding the way Thoreau viewed the world. As someone who has chosen to speak the truth of my own experience, no matter what doubt or disbelief there might be, that moment in Thoreau's life is deeply meaningful to me.
"I believe that if you pause for five minutes each day, close your eyes and allow yourself to look within, you will find your truest self and it is in that recognition that you will find your greatest joy. Open your hearts and minds to the possibilities because that spirit within you is the you that will never end. Your life is yesterday, today and every tomorrow. All who ever were still are and always will be." - Cathryn McIntyre
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The photo image of Thoreau shown above was taken at the Maxham studio in Worcester, MA in 1856. It is not a photo in the public domain and appears on this website by permission of The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Concord, MA. It should not be copied or reproduced without consent.