I read Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden when I was young, but my recent move to the woods has rekindled my desire to delve deeper into this work.
One of my favorite quotes, arguably, one of the most widely known is the following:
“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 HAD TO TEACH, AND NOT, WHEN I CAME TO DIE, DISCOVER THAT I HAD NOT LIVED.”
This quote resonates with me. Living in the woods has removed me from an environment centered on thought and noise pollution, brought on by the information overload prevalent in modern society. In the woods, there is no virtual world. It is not a simulation but powerfully real in its beauty and severity.
Not everyone can live in the woods, but I don’t think this means that Thoreau’s idea is inapplicable or untouchable, no matter where you live.
To me, Thoreau’s Walden is an escape from busyness, noise, and ignorance. It is a return to what is natural and authentic. And perhaps your Walden can be found by leaving the noise that entangles those who have misplaced or even traded what is natural for what is virtual.
Most people feel stressed about being left offline, as if their online presence is a fundamental part of their identity. This self-deception leads us away from what is real and, paradoxically, away from what we both want and need.
Information can be powerful, but it can also disempower and make us deaf to silence. The answers we seek in life are often found in the silence we refuse to hear. In short, silence is our Walden. It is a place that has much to teach if we are just willing to be quiet and listen.
I am eager to find my Walden and see what it has to teach. Nature holds immense wisdom and offers every answer to every question we have because we are a part of it. Nature teaches us how to be born, how to die, and everything in-between.
I encourage us all to find our Walden. To remove ourselves from the virtual noise to the silence that is real.