Transcendentalist Trivia

In the woods we return to reason and faith. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did you know Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau lived for two years, two months and two days is in a forest that was owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau’s friend and mentor?

Me neither!

I found this information on Wikipedia while looking for a Thoreau quote.

Let’s step back…

I’m reading Walden, Thoreau’s master work. The book has been on my Kindle for a couple of years…I think it was free. When I downloaded the book, I found it difficult and above my pay grade. I only made a 1% dent in the book before abandoning Thoreau’s journey into the woods.

Last week at the airport I opened up Walden again. This time I found I’m ready to hear what he has to say—like:

I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.

How can he remember well his ignorance—which his growth requires—who has so often to use his knowledge?

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?

Sitting three across, I asked my son if he knew the author of the quote that’s on the wall hanging in his bathroom. “The one with the pine tree…something about faith and reason in the woods. Is it Henry David Thoreau?”

“I think it’s Emerson…why?”

“I’m reading Walden and that quote seems appropriate to the story.”

“You’re reading Walden?”

“Yeah. Have you read it?”

“We had to read like twelve pages sophomore year. It was weird. Something about a big eye watching us.”

I haven’t gotten to the big eye part yet, but the book is offering much pause for thought.

For example, while in California, we noticed cauliflower has replaced kale as the “in” vegetable. Cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower chips, deep fried cauliflower. I immediately thought of something Thoreau said:

One farmer says to me, “You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with”; and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.

Humans.

We’re hilarious…


Emerson and Thoreau were transcendentalists who believed that God lived within the soul of each person, and this would lead him or her to know what was right and true.

What do you think?