July 25, 2014
The author Margaret Sidney once said, “In Concord, you are left free to study, search, and explore to your heart’s content. No one is surprised that you have come; no on urges you to study. Here, if in any spot on earth, each is master of his own movements, and lord of his time.” Had Henry David Thoreau ever met her, he would have agreed with her entirely.
Thoreau was the most famous Transcendalist and from July 1845 to September 1847 he lived in a one-roomed, simply furnished home he made mostly by himself at Walden Pond where he wrote his acclaimed book, Walden. The work, which details Thoreau's two year experience and uses the four seasons to symbolize human growth, is one of the most celebrated pieces of American Literature and Transcendentalism is a cultural movement that arose in Concord during the 1820’s. The Alcotts and Ralph Waldo Emerson were Transcendentalists as well and they believed that organized religions and political parties corrupted individuals and societies, humans and nature possess inherent goodness, and that it is only when people become self-actualized are they able to live peacefully in a community.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front the only 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.” Thoreau's Walden was greatly admired by poet Robert Frost and behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, who wrote the utopian novel, Walden Two , in 1945.
This is a replication of the cabin Thoreau lived in. Although the where abouts of the original still remain unclear, the best supported theory hypothesizes that it was moved when Thoreau retired from his journey of self-discovery.
I have never read Walden, but I have read John Krakauer’s Into The Wild, which is about Chris McCandless’s seclusion in the Alaskan tundra. Because McCandless was a Transcendalist like Thoreau, I always assumed that Thoreau lived recklessly. When I looked inside the replication, I discovered McCandless was an individual who practiced Transcendentalism to the extreme and that Thoreau wasn’t crazy for three reasons.
First off, his home was pretty cozy! It had a bed, fireplace for heat and cooking, and two chairs beside his green circle table which means guests used to visit him. Second, Thoreau wasn't out of touch with the outside world. Concord wasn’t a bustling place during the 1840's so it wasn't as though Concordians were surrounded by throngs of people. This time period didn’t have the technological innovations we have today, so even though Thoreau lived on the outskirts of town, he presumably learned major news the same time other people did. Thirdly, his house overlooked beautiful Walden Pond!
Now who wouldn’t want their house having a vista of this?
With three hundred and thirty-five acres of open space, Walden Pond is an incredibly serene place for swimmers, hikers, nature enthusiasts, and dreamers. If you can't visit the pond during this summer, come during the fall; the foliage here is breathtaking.
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