“It is something to be able to paint a picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden
In Henry David Thoreau’s book, Walden, the author performs a social experiment for himself by leaving the city and living in isolation within nature to observe a change in his own thinking. Many people consider him to be a transcendentalist due to his belief that being all-consuming was stealing joy from people. He encouraged people to slow down, enjoy solitude, get to know your own thoughts, and get to know the complexities of nature around you.
One of the many things he inferred was that most people are different when they are around others. We conceal the more wild parts of ourselves. People have intense, passionate, and artistic feelings but often minimize them with a plastered grin and go about their day. Thoreau proposed that getting back to nature would compel people to care less about society’s expectations and be happy with the beauty within themselves.
Thoreau spent much time and effort in studying the effects of being alone in nature. For him standing on the outside of society within his solitude, made it easier for him to see some of humanity’s self-sabotaging habits. Many people have labeled him a pioneer for saving the environment. But the truth is, he wanted to save people from more than that, he wanted to save people from wasting their precious time on earth.
When we spend more time in our heads, we define for ourselves what beauty is. We rely less on the expectations and opinions of others to tell us when something beautiful, and we trust ourselves more when we find something beautiful to declare it so.
Getting yourself back to nature does not necessarily mean you need to pack up, go off the grid, and disconnect for three weeks. There are many ways someone can get “back to nature”. It could be laying in your hammock without any stimulation other than the twittering and buzzing sounds around you. It could be going on a walk with your kids and guessing how old the trees are. It could be sitting in the grass and making flower crowns with dandelions. However you choose to reconnect with nature, consider reading Walden during the process.