“We need the Tonic of Wildness,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in the 1840s while living on Walden Pond. Back then, Walden Pond was an island of wild surrounded by farms and a newly industrializing landscape. Thoreau constructed a tiny cabin in a grove of pine and oak above a cove on the placid kettle pond. And although just a mere mile from the hubbub of Concord, he was quite removed at Walden. He spent his days observing the wild world around him and coming to the realization that we very much need that wild world for our own sanctity-and that there is much virtue in a life of “voluntary simplicity.”
Fast forward to 2015. Walden Pond is now a beloved state park visited by 100,000s of folks every year. Still forested and undeveloped, and still just a mere mile from the hubbub of Concord, it is no wilderness as it was 175 years ago. But it still calls to those who wish to perhaps leave the industrial and digital world behind for a short moment and partake instead in quiet contemplation and natural observation. Is there room left for wildness and wilderness in a country approaching 325,000,000 residents intent on constantly acquiring and consuming? What will Walden Pond and the surrounding countryside-and country be like 175 years forward?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,” wrote Thoreau in Walden. “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.” I hope this Holiday Season you spend more time with your friends and family enjoying nature and less time in a maddening frenzy of rampant consumerism. Will you be “Opting Outside on Green Friday? I look forward to seeing you on the trail.
It’s a new day–start living!