Concerning Walden

In 1845 Henry David Thoreau moved into a small cabin he had built in the woods at Walden Pond.   In his own, now-famous, words, “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.”   He also wrote that part of his motivation was to discover if such a simple, natural life might not be sublime, and “if it were sublime, to know it by experience…”

In 2012, I made my own pilgrimage to Walden Pond.  I had it in my mind that by walking where Thoreau walked, by standing where he stood, by seeing what he saw, by being meditative and contemplative about his experience, I might siphon off some of his experience for myself.

Shortly after arriving at what is now, Walden Pond State Reservation, I stood in the replica of his tiny cabin.   It was simply furnished:  a bed, a desk, a stove, and three chairs.  That was about it; primitive, even by 1845 standards.   I then walked the trail through the woods to the site where his original cabin had stood.   I stood there forcibly relating to Thoreau.  I surveyed what would have been his view from his front door.  I imagined living a simple, primitive, natural life; a life without all of the “stuff.”

My experience confirmed what I had suspected:  Henry David Thoreau lived on Walden Pond for two years because it is impossible, in just two hours, to discover that which he sought to discover.   Sometimes, there are no shortcuts.   To frame the lesson in terms of my particular situation:  One cannot truly experience the simple life when one knows one must soon return to the car and follow GPS directions to the airport to catch a plane to Chicago.

Blog? Me? Just who do I think I am?

Blogging.  While it isn’t literally true that everyone is doing it, there is a growing number of those who are.

I think there are two schools of thought on this.  Some believe that no one should blog unless there is a good reason to do so.  These are the people who ask themselves, “Why should I blog?”  Others believe that everyone should blog unless there’s a good reason not to. These are the people who ask themselves, “Why shouldn’t I blog?”

It might be a stretch, but I think which school one belongs to is at least linked to how one values people. Those in the former group seem to focus on a person’s extrinsic value.  They believe one’s right to be heard is directly tied to the quality of one’s contribution.  In short, one must have earned the right to blog by being especially insightful, profound, entertaining, admired, etc.  Blogging is for the gifted few.

Meanwhile, those in the latter group seem to focus on a person’s intrinsic value.  They believe one’s right to be heard derives directly from simply being a person! As a PERSON, one has the right to be heard even if one is not especially insightful, profound, entertaining, or admired.

When it comes to blogging, I have in the past fallen in with those in the former school. (I consider that to be a confession.)  Now, having pondered the issue, I am with those in the latter school.  I think the focus on a person’s intrinsic value is both Biblical (as a Christian, very important to me), and Constitutional (as an American, also important to me).  Biblically, it’s related to being created by God, in the image of God.  Constitutionally (technically, Declaration of Independence), it’s related to the principle that all men are created equal…

While I’d like to think that I am especially insightful, profound, entertaining, and admired, I know better.  I offer this blog, not because I have earned the right, or due to the anticipated high quality of my contribution, but because I’m created in the image of God and created equal with all others.  As such, my thoughts and opinions have value.

You may not agree, but the issue of whether or not just anyone should blog is something to cerebrate…