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Thursday, July 12, 2018


Happy National Simplicity Day!

Today is a day devoted to getting back to basics. It’s in honor of Henry David Thoreau, who was born on July 12, 1817. Happy 201st birthday, Henry David!

Henry Who?

Think back to high school when you probably had to read Walden, an account of his two years living the simplest of lives in a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond outside Concord, Massachusetts. Yes, that Henry David Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau was an author, environmentalist, abolitionist, transcendentalist, and poet. Two of his closest transcendentalist friends were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott.

The transcendentalists believed that people have knowledge about themselves that “transcends” all the external forces in their lives. As such, they advocated for living a simpler life in order to get better in touch with their feelings. According to Thoreau, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

So in honor of National Simplicity Day and in memory of Henry David Thoreau, consider unplugging and stepping away from all your electronic devices today (after you finish reading this blog post, of course!) Take a walk in the woods or a stroll along the beach. Do some yoga in the park. Or simply camp out on your porch with a good book and a refreshing glass of ice tea for a few hours.

Unwind to refresh and recharge body and soul. You’ll be happy you did.

Nature was a form of religion for naturalist, essayist, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817–62). In communing with the natural world, he wished to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and … learn what it had to teach." Toward that end Thoreau built a cabin in the spring of 1845 on the shores of Walden Pond — on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson — outside Concord, Massachusetts. There he observed nature, farmed, built fences, surveyed, and wrote in his journal.

One product of his two-year sojourn was this book — a great classic of American letters. Interwoven with accounts of Thoreau's daily life (he received visitors and almost daily walked into Concord) are mediations on human existence, society, government, and other topics, expressed with wisdom and beauty of style.

Walden offers abundant evidence of Thoreau's ability to begin with observations on a mundane incident or the minutiae of nature and then develop these observations into profound ruminations on the most fundamental human concerns. Credited with influencing Tolstoy, Gandhi, and other thinkers, the volume remains a masterpiece of philosophical reflection.

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