Posted by: David McKay | January 23, 2013

A Thought on Thoreau and Walking…

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

So said Henry David Thoreau in The Atlantic, June 1862.

I found this quote and the subsequent link in a recent The Atlantic article about When Trees Die, People Die.

It’s the beginning of Thoreau’s article that struck a chord for me:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

I would be someone who would speak for Nature: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

I would be someone who would speak for Humanity: “Absolute freedom and wildness… a part of Nature.” Civilization be damned – “the minister and the school committee.”

Can you slow down enough to find Thoreau’s pace of living? Is that even possible anymore?

Slow down.

No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession.

Does money buy leisure, freedom, and independence?

Does money buy time?

What can you do, now, for four hours a day, to match what Thoreau had in 1862? It may be that most of us no longer have the time to walk four hours a day, as Thoreau did in his time, but I do believe that we can create our own walks in life.

I walk with my family, my planet, and my home.

What is your definition of family?

My Family = My Planet = My Home.

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.




  1. Right on, David!! Love the writings from Thoreau! ‘Hi!’ to your beautiful family!! I’m not usually a new year’s resolution gal, but made one this year to get outside every day in nature, even if just for 5 minutes, to observe. Even when I feel so cold I don’t want to go out. My 8 year old started a moon and weather journal where he is recording the phases of the moon and making notes of the weather each day. It’s really peaceful to slow down and notice nature and there are so many lessons for us there! Wishing you joy, love, peace.

  2. Hello, my friend! And hello to Liza and that beautiful baby girl of yours!!! We must be on a parallel journey in life since I see that we have both been away from our blogs for a while! I hope it has done your soul some good and hope that someday we will hear from you again! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Love, joy, peace, Kate

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