Don’t Miss It
Currently, most of us are in a whirlwind of stress on multiple levels. During times of stress, being in nature stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which works in contrast to our sympathetic nervous system, or our “fight or flight” response. We need nature to balance our nervous systems. This blog post will follow Thoreau’s environmental experiment, in which he immersed himself in nature for over two years. His insights will stun you.
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.Thoreau
Blessed are they who never read a newspaper, for they shall see Nature, and through her, God.Thoreau
It seems as though Thoreau figured some things out during his short lifetime (45 years) that many of us are still working toward. He realized that if our heads were buried too often in our newspapers (or social media), it would be difficult to see and appreciate Nature – the art of God. If Thoreau only knew how many more news outlets there are in the 21st century that clamor for our attention than there were in the mid-1800’s!
Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817. He attended Harvard University, graduating in the top half of his class. He spent most of his life in Concord, Massachusetts working at his family’s pencil factory. At the age of 21, Thoreau was invited to work for and live with his mentor and friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, which led to his aspirations of writing.
When he was 28, Thoreau was given permission by Emerson to use a plot of land on the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts to build a tiny cabin.
God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages.Thoreau
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life—to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…Thoreau
Here is where he wrote his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, as a tribute to his late brother John. He also conducted a nature experiment to see if it were possible to live by working one day and devoting the other six to more Transcendental concerns. His nature study and the writing of Walden developed during the end of his stay at the Walden Pond. (https://www.thoreausociety.org/life-legacy).
Nature is a greater and more perfect art, the art of God.Thoreau
I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.Thoreau
After two years, two months, and two days in relative solitude, Thoreau spent the rest of his life working in the pencil factory, surveying, lecturing, and publishing essays. In May of 1862, he died of tuberculosis, leaving behind many unfinished works that his sister and friends edited to publish posthumously. Ironically, one of the most quoted authors of our day, was hardly known during his.
I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but by having caged myself near them.Thoreau
One early thrush gave me a note or two as I drove along the woodland path.Thoreau
The hawk is the aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea.Thoreau
To walk in a winter morning in a wood where these birds abounded, their native woods, and hear the wild cockerels crow on the trees, clear and shrill for miles over the resounding earth, drowning the feebler notes of other birds,—think of it!Thoreau
I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray? And yet it has not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters.Thoreau
You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.Thoreau
When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?Thoreau
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.Thoreau
To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.Thoreau
Don’t forget to step outside and take mental pictures of nature to take with you throughout your day. Take breaks from work and the news – go outside and look up. See the striking tones of the blue sky and luminescent clouds. Listen to the melodious birds and the applause of the deciduous trees; the wind swelling through a parade of pine trees. Grasp a rock and admire its texture and patterns. Visit a beach and savor the scent of the briny ocean air. Vacation to feed your parasympathetic nervous system and balance out the stressors in your life.
Thoreau lived in the moment, enjoying nature, which affected the quality of each of his days. Nature was made by God for us to enjoy, and for our health – science proves it through neurobiology. Engaging in nature helps to lower blood pressure levels and heart rate. Let us not take His gift for granted, but instead embrace it with intentionality.
Don’t Miss It.
In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.Thoreau
This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whippoorwill is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature’s watchmen, – links which connect the days of animated life.Thoreau
Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity.Thoreau