“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.” -Henry David Thoreau
Last week, my dad and I had the privilege and pleasure of exploring Walden Pond, home of both the great existentialist Henry David Thoreau and his revolutionary novel Walden. A green oasis of tranquility so close to the concrete wasteland of urban society, Walden Pond cleansed us both in mind and in body. Every breathe of fresh air cleared our lungs; every step on soft, brown earth energized our bones. Every gaze onto the pond’s dark, glassy surface soothed our weary minds. I had found a home here.
I wasn’t the only one. The pond is a state conservation area where thousands of people travel every year to swim in the water or hike along the trails. Even on a calm day, my dad and I saw many people. However, even with the children screaming and the adults laughing, the pond was quiet, seeming to absorb the life some gave it and returning a peacefulness to the rest of us who longed for the silent solitude of the forest.
Most people left a mark of theirs on the park in an interesting way. By the site where Thoreau’s home had been, a pile of rocks now stood. The rocks came from all over the world and usually had a name and year on them, signifying who traveled to Walden Pond and when. The rocks ranged from small pebbles with scribbled letters to big rocks engraved in beautiful cursive. Every one of them was unique.
The rocks represented the people who traveled to Walden Pond quite well. Everyone came and gave a piece of themselves to the park–whether it was a rock in the pile, a footprint on the trail, or a breath of air in the water–and Walden Pond gave everyone the gift of peace and joy to take home with them. So when reality hits us in the face with the full force of work, school, family, money, the city, etc., all of us can wander along the recesses of our minds back to the vibrant memory of the oasis. That is, until the next time we stop by Walden Pond.