The Transcendentalism movement was based on the belief that real truths can be found beyond reason and experience. Henry David Thoreau believed that every individual was capable of discovering these truths on his or her own through personal intuition. Thoreau’s essay Walden, a record of his experiences at Walden Pond, is reflective of the Transcendentalism movement through his experiment of essential living by simplifying his life, studying nature, and seeking real truth within himself.
Thoreau’s experiment in deliberate living began on the fourth of July, 1845. Thoreau chose to live in the woods in a small cabin on the shore of Walden Pond; “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to 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 wanted “simplicity” in his life, and to live only with the basic necessities. His main purpose in going to the pond was to allow him time to observe nature and to learn from it. Thoreau “wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” He wanted to discover what the most important things in life were, then remove everything else from it. His desire was to live in an easy, disciplined way, and to gather as much of the essence of life as possible.
Thoreau’s time spent in nature at Walden Pond brought him to a different understanding of solitude. Thoreau came to believe that physical distance “which separates a man from his fellows” is insignificant. “This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space… Why should I feel lonely?” He says that we are all in the same place. His belief was that because we are all in this life together, the physical space between us is trivial. Despite a distance separating us, we are all in this life together; there is no true solitude.
What I want most in life is to be able to look back and say there wasn t anything I regret, no chances I didn t take, and nothing I passed up. Life is to short to be spent asking yourself "what if?' What if I had tried harder, done more, been better. There are many things beyond our control that keep us from our dreams, but fear is the worst, and we bring it upon ourselves. Webster's Revised ...
After two years of writing and studying nature, Thoreau left Walden Pond satisfied. He had learned and experienced everything he went there to do, and it was now time to take what he had learned with him and move on. “I left the woods for as good as a reason as I went there…I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one…” His experiment had been a success. By spending his secluded time with nature, he had learned many lessons, had taken time and examined his inner self and his own world, and proved he could live under the simplest conditions and still be fulfilled. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that as one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
The observations of nature throughout the story include Walden in the Transcendentalism movement. Henry David Thoreau spends two years studying nature, and using firsthand observations to explore his relationship with the natural world. He also shows through Walden his belief in simplicity and individualism by casting off all material things and finding the values in a simple life.