Thoreau : Walden (Summary)

I completed reading Walden some time back and had been thinking of writing a broad take on the book. Surely it took a long time coming, but not as long as it took to write the book. It is said Thoreau took nearly ten years to complete this book and it come out very well in the end I think. Read more posts on Thoreau's Walden.

Thoreau wrote his observations while living alone besides a pond (called Walden) over a period of nearly two years. As living alone Thoreau dwelt on problems that every living soul has to dwell with. The very basic problem of food, of clothing, of roof over the head and how to keep oneself engaged in spare time. The book is a reflections on these very primal needs. In doing so he contemplates over the interactions each of these needs have with the environment around him. In a sense, it is account of human nature and human and nature. The nature here being inherently beautiful, wholesome and observant. The woods, the pond, the weather, the ice are there for  all. It is up to each observer as to define his relationship with these. For some these are just there, for some these are the very essence of life. Thoreau in his book observes nature (the ponds, the fields) not as something to be used, but something to be inspired of. The book is not a survival guide or a farmer's almanac nor an experiment and not even philosophy. It is just living. The experiences of living simply and in harmony with everything around. The wholesome nature providing everything that is needed and still there is enough more for everyone needs. Thoreau shows everything that nature does is beautiful and caring. Even the food rotting would be helpful for insects for they also own this earth besides the man. The author also states that he is never alone in the woods. There is this great song that nature plays but for only those who have the ears to listen to it. Even a great battle between red and black ants in the forest have visions of epic valour. The drama of life around him keep him busy. I can't help but recall Nietzsche's words
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." 
on reading the book. A unfettered and observant mind has so much to learn from nature and from the efforts one makes to meet his needs. When one pushes living to the lowest terms, to the most basic needs it is then one realizes as Thoreau says the "marrow of life". Living simple and yet thinking high. Not to be bogged down by the struggles of daily life or meaningless inconsequential or luxuries, but sometimes stop and think and think deep. Sometimes until we are not lost, we will not find the true path home. Sometimes until we step back and look again, we won't realize the true nature of the problem. Sometimes until we live simple, we won't realize the complex and infinite extent of our relationship with the nature around us. As Thoreau says
"What should we think of the shepherd’s life if his flocks always wandered to higher pastures than his thoughts?"
Some might say the book is a criticism to modern life. It is not a throwback to old times. These are just observations and they are personal. Each reader has to find his/her own truth from this. It is not rejection of the material comfort. It is rejection of immersing oneself in material pursuits to such extents that one has not time for greater thoughts. And in finding it, we must break new frontiers like Columbus opening new channels of thought. Explore yourself, open your eyes and arms and grasp this infinite the secret of life through nature. Work hard. Think high. Be self reliant. Live simple. Explore thyself!

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